On 30th March, 1A was jammed-packed with 40 eager Startup Garagers who couldn’t wait to hear from Tim Packer, Head of Smart City solutions at NEC NZ – and boy he didn’t disappoint. Tim’s talk held the audience’s attention well into the evening as he spoke about the innovative Smart City network NEC is building within Wellington. Everything from using machine learning to improve predator control, developing unique sensors to streamline water quality management and utilizing the Unity gaming engine to visualize big data with VR.


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Image above : Tim Packer and one of NEC’s “Kite” Smart City sensors.  


Tim’s talk highlighted a few key themes within the Smart City sector, garnered from NEC’s rich national and international network and expertise. The first insight was that there are well over 800 vendors throughout the world, but each have their own definition of “Smart City” – reducing the level of clarity within the sector and hindering the measurability of a city’s performance. The second was that a Smart City is only truly smart if the collected data is freely available to the masses. This key founding principle instills transparency and enables everyone to engage and benefit from the network.  Lastly, the size of a city has a huge impact upon the effectiveness of a Smart City Network – too small and the cost outweighs the benefits, too large and data becomes unmanageable and difficult to interpret. Wellington fall within the perfect butter zone between size and cost to benefit ratio. In fact, Wellington’s size and the council’s openness to collaborate, experiment and play was the single biggest factor to NEC’s operations within the capital.      

It was a privilege to host Tim and NEC, and easily one of the best Startup Garage’s we have ever had. So much so I think a follow-up in not out of the question. If you’d like to catchup on the talk hit up the LIVE stream so you catch all the action.

Don’t worry if you missed out, 1st Assembly routinely hosts a number of free events and workshops. If you’d like to learn more and take part you can sign up for our newsletter at 1-a.co.nz, and join our meetup groups at: meetup.com/1stAssembly and meetup.com/StartupGarage.