Sunshine Coast stars at smart city awards

The Sunshine Coast has been recognised as the nation’s leader in smart cities at the inaugural Australian Smart Cities Awards in Sydney.

Council won the coveted Leadership City category for its commitment to smart cities through its “Smart City Implementation Plan – not rhetoric” which encompasses data sharing, investment in loT technology and free public Wi-Fi.

Council collected the ‘Regional Leadership Award’ for the 15-megawatt Sunshine Coast Solar Farm – the first to be built by a local government in Australia – which offsets more than 100% of council’s total electricity consumption. Council’s Smart City co-ordinator, Michael Whereat, also took out the ‘Smart Cities Leader – Government’.

Council’s Smart Region Management Platform, which shares disparate data to provide a bird’s eye view of the smart solutions and systems across the region, also won a highly commended award.

Economic Development Portfolio Councillor Stephen Robinson said it was a tremendous honour and a great achievement for the Sunshine Coast to win three awards, including the top prize, at Australia’s first Smart City Council Awards, which recognise leadership and best practice in the smart cities movement.

“This is an outstanding feat for our region and especially given that we were up against two capital cities in Brisbane and Adelaide for the top prize ‘Leadership City’ award,” Cr Robinson said.

“We believe that adopting smart city technologies will provide real opportunities to build a stronger economy, develop a stronger and safer community, improve service delivery to residents, businesses and visitors.”

“Significant progress has been made in our region since council launched the Smart City Framework in 2015, which was introduced to help create a smart and digitally connected Maroochydore City Centre.”

“Council has harnessed a host of technologies to create a more liveable region, including the first whole-of-region smart Wi-Fi, smart bins and water meters, street lighting as well as sensors for parking and to monitor wildlife and waterways.

“The Aura, Palmwoods and Landsborough developments also have smart city solutions either installed or planned for the future and council’s Smart Centre in Bulcock Street, Caloundra has welcomed more than 2,500 visitors since opening in 2016.

“The Smart Centre also became Australia’s first smart city urban streetscape demonstration and testing facility in 2017 and in July this year it hosted the first public demonstration of light fidelity (Li-Fi) technology in the Asia-Pacific region.

“In 2017, Sunshine Coast Council became the first local government in Australia to build a utility scale solar farm at Valdora (14km west of Coolum Beach). It’s the largest solar farm built in South East Queensland and the first in Australia to operate at 1500 volts for greater efficiency.

“The solar farm has enabled council to offset around 107% of its electricity consumption and in its first year since opening has generated more than 30GW hours of energy with resulting carbon savings of more than 24,000 tonnes.

“So, it’s absolutely terrific that council has been recognised for its hard work and foresight in the smart cities space and we can now proudly say that we’re a national leader for smart city technologies.

“These awards come hot on the heels of the Sunshine Coast again being named one of the Smart 21 communities of the world (2019) for the fifth time in the last six years. This is another tremendous result for the Sunshine Coast and recognises council’s work in the delivery and implementation of the Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS), the Smart Cities program, as well as social and cultural development and quality of life elements which are all considered.”


Local business HeliMods has been catapulted into the national spotlight as it heads to Melbourne next week to compete for the for the title of 2018 Telstra Australian Business of the Year.

This home-grown talent has gone from strength to strength through its rapid growth, taking out Sunshine Coast Business of the Year in 2017 and Telstra Queensland Business of the Year earlier this year. Now up against some of the best businesses in the country, HeliMods is poised to take out Telstra’s highest national award as 2018 Australian Business of the Year.

“This award should really show that any business into tech, that has a global market, can do it from a regional area,” Founder and Managing Director, Mr Will Shrapnel said after receiving the State-based awards at the Telstra gala dinner earlier this year.

“It’s just incredible, to be a regional business, a tech company in the regions, and to be recognised at a significant awards ceremony like this, that’s just massive, that means so much to us.”

This sentiment could not be more relevant now with the recent announcement of the international broadband submarine cable, which will see the Sunshine Coast delivering Australia’s fastest telecommunications connection to Asia and second fastest to the United States.

This technology will provide a game-changing platform for high-tech businesses like HeliMods preparing for the next frontier of transformation to Industry 4.0, enabling further rapid innovation and growth.

“I believe the Sunshine Coast is capable of hosting the most advanced and technology-intensive industries in the world. I also believe that innovative and progressive companies that choose to invest in this region will gain an enduring and increasing competitive advantage over their city-only counterparts”, said Mr Shrapnel.

Founded in 2002 by multi-generational Sunshine Coast local Will Shrapnel, with $5,000 on a credit card and a vision for building high-tech capability in the regions, HeliMods is now at the forefront of its field globally and is rapidly becoming a multimillion dollar business.

HeliMods is recognised as a world leader in the helicopter modification and special missions’ space. It takes helicopters from factory and its specialist team converts them into hi-tech emergency medical, search and rescue, or disaster relief machines in Australian and around the world.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said HeliMods was a true Sunshine Coast success story and one that would represent the region well in the upcoming national awards.

“HeliMods is a progressive business which continues to showcase the latest technologies and innovation – and by their efforts demonstrate how leading innovative businesses can succeed on a national and global stage from operating on the Sunshine Coast.

“It’s great to see local businesses like HeliMods being recognised for their hard work.

“HeliMods’ success demonstrates the Sunshine Coast offers great opportunities to establish, grow and operate a global firm, making us Australia’s healthy, smart, creative region.

“With our recent announcement that an international broadband submarine cable will be installed and in service from the Sunshine Coast from the first half of 2020, there will be even more opportunities to expand.

“Sunshine Coast Council is the first local government in Australia to secure an investment in an international submarine cable and, in an increasingly digital world, the value of this investment in the region’s future cannot be understated.

“Without a doubt, this investment will result in a significant point of difference for the Sunshine Coast.

Mayor Mark Jamieson is also encouraging the Sunshine Coast community to get behind HeliMods and contribute in their own way to supporting the local business in the lead up to the National Awards.

“We strongly encourage our community and local business people to get behind HeliMods by voting for them in the People’s Choice Awards on the Telstra Awards Website”, Mayor Jamieson said.

All 2018 Queensland winners will join other state and territory category winners at the National 2018 Telstra Business Awards in Melbourne on 20 September.

People’s Choice voting closes at 5pm (AEST) on Wednesday, September 19. To vote for HeliMods in the People’s Choice Award visit:


There is technology in infancy right now that I believe holds the potential to transform our lives as dramatically as the World Wide Web has done over the past two decades. Ethereum (pronounced e-theory-um) is a technology that offers an easier, better way to do things like legal contracts, trading, and governance. It’s built on an existing technology called ‘blockchain’ that can be considered an absolutely secure and unalterable ledger. Ethereum adds to this secure foundation the concept of smart contracts, which are decentralised computer programs able to make transactions based on specific conditions being met.


Basically, what Ethereum offers is recordkeeping and communication that can be trusted. Money, trading, law, voting and governance can exist in a pure way that has never been possible before; results require community consensus, they cannot be changed once determined, and processes are transparent, although it’s still possible to work anonymously with this technology.  


Consider legal contracts that are not open to contention: for example, a will. Keeping the will in the Ethereum blockchain could remove any doubts about the final version of the will, as well as any confusion as to how it was to be interpreted. A smart contract would execute a will immediately once an appropriate authority had verified the death, and would transfer the ownership of assets and wealth automatically, based on the rules that are defined in the will. No human executor would be required.


Another application provides a digital power of attorney. Social or commercially based communities could band together by placing their legal authority to act on a specific issue into the hands of a chosen representative. For example, if 100,000 people want to own an electric car, they could digitally mobilise and pool their shared consumer wishes into a single legal instrument to create a real market that would not be ignored by car manufacturers. In fact, the balance of power would shift to the consumer group that could now force manufacturers to compete for this huge sales contract. The manufacturer could be guaranteed sales, removing some risk from the process for them.


Ethereum also has the potential to greatly increase awareness and political engagement in the population by empowering people. Everyone could have the ability to directly control their own civil and legal rights. We would see an Internet that allowed sharing of knowledge that was not monitored by government agencies, and without bombardments of advertising. The Internet would be what it was once intended to be; providing the free ability for all mankind to share ideas and communicate with each other, as well as allowing unrestricted and ethical global trade.


If these ideas sound a little grandiose, try to remember what life was like before you were first introduced to the Internet, or, if you have grown up with the Internet, ask your parents. Many of the things that we take for granted today were unimaginable 10 years ago, including social changes enabled by technological advances. As monitored as the Internet is, we’re still able to communicate openly and have access to multiple news sources for free. This has immense social value when almost all traditional media are controlled by a very small group and used almost exclusively for promoting political and financial agendas. Try to imagine what the world might be like if the only news source available to people was the Murdoch press.

It’s still early days for Ethereum, but there is a lot happening. Here on the Sunshine Coast there are entrepreneurs working with the technology. ‘Sicoor’, based in the Innovation Centre at the University of the Sunshine coast, are creating a health care records platform to allow doctors and patients to interact globally. I am certain that we will see big changes in our lives, and that they’ll be more exciting than the football scores in England.


Apologies to English football fans.

Originally Published October 2016


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Alayna Cole is a writer, game designer and academic on the Sunshine Coast. She is currently studying a Doctorate, focussing on queer representations in the narrative, specifically unsettling the patriarchal, heteronormative elements traditionally found in fairy tales. Alayna has always been passionate about storytelling in any form, including interactive. Among her many achievements, she is the founder of Queerly Represent Me. A pet project of Alayna, Queerly Represent Me is a database of video games, journal articles, and research concerning the representation of diverse sexuality, gender, and relationships. QRM is about collecting various positive representations in one spot for researchers, gamers and anyone to find. The idea for the site came to Alayna while researching for her Doctorate.She discovered many articles, ideas, and games representing the various communities. Originally, the database was a means of keeping track of her research for her own study. She briefly considered writing some articles about her findings but soon decided that once published, an article is ‘fixed’ in place. Also, with all the information gained Alayna simply had too much for an article. In a field, which is fluid, changing and evolving constantly, an article could soon become outdated. Discussing the conception of QRM, Alayna says, ‘The database is a way of sharing more information than some articles could have, and in a format that can be constantly updated.’ With over 700 games currently catalogued on the site, a database appears to have been the right choice.
What constitutes a video game is like explaining what constitutes a novel. The medium is so varied and different games have a different purpose. Gamers vary, as do the games they play. When asked about the potential of video games, Alaynaanswered:
‘Interactive narratives take creative writing and enhance the way we can experience a written story, walking simulators take paintings and allow you to wander around inside them, and action games throw you into a movie and ask you to participate.’
She further explained this is a simplified explanation of gaming. That, like most art forms, games borrow from a variety of mediums to create something unique and distinguished. As games expand in scope and ambition, the storytelling is becoming more inventive, complex, sophisticated and personal.Games allow you to take walk in someone else’s shoes. Some people who visit QRM may find the pair of shoes they’ve been seeking.
The interactive aspect of games creates a unique relationship with between player and character. As Alayna explains:
‘Interactivity has the potential to strengthen the bond between a player and a character, and to increase the empathy a player experiences for the plight of others. This identification and understanding is particularly relevant when increasing representation of minority groups in games, as it can lead to more positive societal outcomes.’
The best games are an immersive experience, drawing the player into a world. This interactivity has potential to connect with those who identify with the characters, but also could help those who are questioning their sexuality and/or are forming their self-identity.
Alayna is hopeful games and the arts in general will continue to broaden its horizons. While mainstream games are beginning to feature more representations of minorities, they still have a long way to go to catch up with independent developers. Even in the indie scene, it is difficult to find representations of asexual persons and those who identify as transgender or as non-binary gender. However, the response to Queerly Represent Me has been overwhelmingly positive, an encouraging sign indeed. Art which brings attention to one minority group not only connects with members of the group, but will hopefully encourage the representation of other marginalised groups. Bringing attention to these games encourage pride in one’s self, acceptance and further creativity.
Art reflects society but society is constantly changing. Alayna wants Queerly Represent Me to constantly evolve and the artistic community should always aim to do the same. The database is not just for academics, gamers or those who identify as part of the queer community. It’s for anyone who wants to explore other perspectives, broaden their horizons and understand others. There are so many voices out there waiting to be heard. Why not visit Queerly Represent Me, stay a while and listen?
See Alayna’s amazing database at:

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But I digress. Neural nets are good at the more human tasks; recognising faces, or understanding human speech. Google Images uses a neural net to be able to search for pictures of things based on the words you type in. They have indexed millions of images, tagging them with words, like “red”, “dog”, “picnic” and the neural net begins to make it’s own connections between the patterns in images that are all tagged with “dog”, and so it eventually learns pretty well what a dog looks like. After that the neural net doesn’t need humans to tell it there is a dog in a certain picture, it can figure it out for itself. So you can go to and type in “dog” and it gives you a bunch of pictures that have dogs in them. Now, some creative engineers at Google recently came up with the idea of having a look inside their vast image neural net, by asking it to output a picture of what it is seeing after having begun to apply its recognition process to an image.

recently came up with the idea of having a look inside their vast image neural net, by asking it to output a picture of what it is seeing after having begun to apply its recognition process to an image.


It’s like showing a picture to your friend, then asking them to draw what they saw; the picture they draw for you reveals some of the original picture, and some of the thoughts that arose in your friend’s mind. It tells you a bit about how they think. + The images produced by this process are best described as psychedelic… a stream of computerised consciousness, “I see an eye, I think I see a dog, I see a dog, I see an eye, colours”.


These images are being tagged with the hashtag #deepdream.

See:  – You can now even upload your own pictures & see what Google neural net see’s at

(The title for this piece is a play on the title of the science fiction novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K Dick; nothing to do with Android phones.) I have massively simplified the technical specifics of this process, for brevity, clarity, and because, having failed neural nets as a subject, I’m not totally up on those specifics. I

recommend this article if you are interested in more indepth information : 

This photo of our backyard is transformed into a far stranger place by the dreams of the Google neural net.


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Creativity, Community, Culture