Involving your community

Even though smart solutions harvest data to support improved customer outcomes; research regularly finds that up to half of the population has concerns about the use of this information.

If we are transparent about smart solutions and their outcomes and actively involve communities in the design and deployment of smart places, customer concerns can be addressed, and trust earned.


In other words, when people are involved and can see a clear reason for collecting information; when they can have a say in how it is used; and when they understand the benefits for them or their community, they are more likely to be supportive of a smart solution.

Customer acceptance is referred to as 'social licence', and early engagement is key to achieving it.

The first principle of the Smart Places Customer Charter is 'co-creating smart solutions', and it is an enabler for all the other principles.

Co-creation goes beyond consulting stakeholders on a proposed solution. You will need to engage people at the very beginning of the process and work closely with them to define what they want from community spaces and places and find out their needs and desires.

To co-create, you will need to embed engagement throughout the smart places life cycle.


Consider the role customers can play in every sub-section of this Playbook. Actively create opportunities for them to participate and seek input and involvement from a wide range of groups – First Nations people, people with accessibility needs, younger people, older people, people with disability, culturally and linguistically diverse people, and people with lower digital skills or limited access to the internet. As a minimum, local Aboriginal land councils should be involved to ensure the needs of their communities are considered.

You will need to adjust the way you engage people throughout the smart places' life cycle and the approaches you take will depend on the type and scale of smart place solutions.

One approach to consider, to drive co-creation, is Human Centred Design. Human Centred Design is an approach to problem-solving that puts customers at the centre of the solution. At its best, Human Centred Design sees people who might benefit from smart technology as part of the design process and even, if possible, part of the design team.

A high degree of customer involvement during the discovery phase (known in Human Centred Design practice as the 'inspiration phase') is imperative. Maintaining this beyond the discovery phase will help achieve buy-in by generating ideas ('ideation') and sharing solutions with customers and exploring whether a solution meets their needs effectively ('implementation').

Rather than prescribe methods, this Playbook offers resources to help achieve the desired outcome from engagement.

Resources to support co-creation of smart places

NSW Smart Places Customer Charter

The Smart Places Customer Charter spells out our Government's commitment to:

  • Co-creating smart places
  • Creating an open and fair environment
  • Delivering benefits that last
  • Respecting local character
  • Co-creating smart places
  • Advancing digital inclusivity.

NSW Information and privacy Commission's Charter for Public Participation

The Charter is underpinned by NSW's Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, which aims to advance government that is open, accountable, fair and effective. The Charter provides a practical and principle-based approach for embedding public participation in agency decision-making frameworks and policy development. It provides guidance, tools and case studies to assist in planning for, and conducting effective engagement.

International Association for Public Participations IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum

IAP2's Public Participation Spectrum is designed to assist with the selection of the level of participation that defines the public's role in any community engagement program. The Spectrum shows that differing levels of participation are legitimate depending on the goals, time frames, resources, and levels of concern in the decision to be made. However, and most importantly, the Spectrum sets out the promise being made to the public at each participation level. The Spectrum is widely used and is quoted in most community engagement manuals. IAP2 members can also access a library of case studies and host training sessions to support skills in engagement.

NSW Aboriginal Land Council

As the State's peak representative body in Aboriginal Affairs, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council aims to protect the interests and further the aspirations of its members and the broader Aboriginal community. This page provides links to all Local Aboriginal Land Councils in NSW.

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations' list of disability advocacy organisations

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) is a Disabled People's Organisation (DPO). AFDO are a cross-disability representative organisation, and the national voice representing people with disability in Australia.

AFDO members are national and state disability advocacy organisations run by and for people with disability and their families. AFDO provides a list of disability advocacy organisations including national peak organisations and those specific to NSW.

Digital Trust for Places and Routines

Digital Trust for Places and Routines is an open-source communication standard to increase transparency and accountability for digital technology in public places. The creators of DTPR, Helpful Places have developed a unified taxonomy and visual language to communicate what tech is in a place, how it is used, what it will be used for and provides opportunities for citizens to follow up and learn more or provide feedback. 

Building capability and further learning

Smart NSW Case Study Library

The Smart NSW Case Study Library is a resource showcasing great outcomes for people and places enabled by smart technology and data solutions. Browse the library online to see initiatives that involve communities across the state.

SmartNSW Masterclasses

The SmartNSW Masterclass series is building a confident, skilled public sector workforce, able to use technology and data as core business. Relevant sessions are highlighted below.

2023:Trust and tech in smart places

This masterclass helps place and precinct managers and councils to deliver smart solutions safely, ethically and transparently, growing community involvement and engagement.


2021 Smart Places Masterclass Series

Co-hosted with the Australian Computer Society, this series explored core drivers in smart places.

Relevant sessions include:




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