The Smart City Podcast with Practical Futurist Andrew Grill

This episode of the Smart City Podcast featured Practical Futurist, Andrew Grill and was first published on the Smart City Podcast website.

We discussed a number of interesting topics that fit into the Smart City space. We talk about the future of work, and how it’s not all about the millennials.

We also discussed what digital diversity is and why it is important on our decision making boards, and also why the new GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, should actually empower us to use our data how we want to, and to our advantage.

I really enjoyed this futuristic yet practical chat.

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The Smart City Podcast with Practical Futurist Andrew Grill

What we covered in this episode:

  • What a practical futurist actually means
  • Andrew’s background in engineering, telcos and startups
  • How Andrew’s skills fit into the Smart City space
  • Andrew’s definition of a Smart City
  • Why focusing on tech that makes life better (as opposed to tech for tech’s sake) is so important
  • The projects Andrew is currently working on
  • What the future of workforce will look like
  • What digital diversity is and why it’s vital
  • Why Andrew uses a scary slide in every talk he gives
  • How the regulators and disruptors can communicate collaboratively and informally
  • The reason we will have to start writing ads for robots
  • The power and opportunity of personal data ownership


“Whatever you can measure, if you can measure it and put it on a screen and see what’s happening in real time, you can get a sense of your ecosystem. If that ecosystem is a city, and you’re managing a city like Sydney or Brisbane, and you can augment and instrument as many things as you can, you can then see real time what’s going on.”

“I think a Smart City is a city that makes it easier to work, live or play, without technology getting in the way. You don’t see tech right in front of you…you just know that it makes your life easier.”

“Smart Cities have so much data that’s there, and the challenge is how do you make sense of that?”

“We may see that the millennials are forcing us to work one way, and then there’s a backlash, and the generation after millennials say, ‘we want to have an office with a door.’ I think we need to be flexible [with the place of work and how we get work done.]”

“The problem is, the people making the decisions about attracting the talent, aren’t of the age and flexibility of the talent.”

“It may be that the digitally diverse person isn’t on the board full time, because frankly they get bored with some of the stuff that’s discussed, but you need to have the diversity of thought…so they ask the sort of questions that need to be asked.”

“The perfectly formed board would not have people that are all the same. They’d have more than one person that has the digital perspective so that that one person isn’t just the digital dude and gets picked on. And they’d also have people…that have really strong International experience and can bring that to the table. So the notion of digital diversity means you have a well-formed board that can navigate and negotiate any issue that comes at them.”

“You need regulators thinking like disruptors, you need disruptors thinking like regulators and you need citizens being able to provide advice as well. That is the future.”

“I see GDPR as a huge opportunity. Beyond the regulation, it now allows consumers to put a value on their own data.”

“I think we are on the cusp of consumers like me, who are empowered, starting off, and then the late majority in maybe 10 years literally waving a flag saying, “I want my data back.””

Links and resources

Arthur C Clarke (author of 2001: A Space Odyssey interviewed by Australian ABC Journalist in 1974

Andrew’s TedX talk


Connect with Andrew Grill on Twitter @andrewgrill, on LinkedIn and on his blog which is

Connect with me via email:, Twitter or Facebook@smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.



Andrew Grill - The Actionable Futurist®

The Actionable Futurist®. Former Global Managing Partner @ IBM. Proud Dad. TEDx & International Keynote Speaker. Aussie in London.