Sandy Vershoor


1,350,000 (2018)

Lead Innovation Officer

Dave Gerner

Innovation is helping to:
  • Anticipate and manage future challenges

  • Save costs and improve efficiency within the public sector

  • Provide analytics to manage climate change

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Leadership from Mayor

Spotlight on innovation in Adelaide

In 2018-2019, the city of Adelaide undertook a restructuring that aimed to change how the city conducts its business and innovates for better outcomes. Adelaide recently implemented an Internet of Things network that uses remote sensors to monitor air quality, temperature variations caused by the urban heat effect, water use, and biodiversity resilience. The city is also about to finish a 4-year economic development project to equip 1,000 buildings with a 10 gigabyte fiber optic network, providing a high-performance digital infrastructure that will facilitate business transformation.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Adelaide has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Adelaide approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Adelaide is focused on

Environment and climate change
Economic Development

Environment/climate change: Adelaide recently sets up an Internet of Things network to connect remote sensors for monitoring air quality, temperature variations caused by the urban heat effect, water use and biodiversity resilience. Adelaide is working with alternative materials in road construction that absorb heat more effectively and reduce heat reflection into the atmosphere. The city has installed water-saving devices and utilized smart meters to understand the nuances of water usage throughout the season.

Economic development: Adelaide is about to finish a 4-year project to connect 1,000 buildings across the city with a 10 gigabit fiber optic network, providing one of the highest performing pieces of digital infrastructure in the world. City businesses are utilizing this infrastructure to enable digital business transformation. The City is developing policy and data governance structures to provide start-ups with access to the city infrastructure for developing innovative solutions for smart city problems.

Policy areas by number of cities

Adelaide utilizes 5 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Communication officer
Start-up expert
Innovation roles by number of cities

As an independent department, Adelaide’s dedicated innovation team consists of 4 staff.

Terms Adelaide most associates with innovation

Bold leadership
Human-centered design

Adelaide's most common innovation activities

Facilitating organizational change within the municipality
e.g. silo-busting; new internal performance management; staff training and capacity building on innovation tools or techniques; reforms to contracting or procurement
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, Adelaide has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Municipal budget
Municipal budget
This could include, for instance, City Council approved funds; operating budget; a special funding process (bond, Mayoral special initiative funding, etc.); and participatory budgeting / citizen-selected budgeting.

Activities being funded

Idea generation & brainstorming
Investing in physical infrastructure
Investing in digital systems
Paying for services
47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

Similar to 61% of participating cities in the 2020 survey, Adelaide’s funding for innovation capacity is also directed towards training staff and building capacity*.

*"Training staff and building capacity" is not an option in the 2018 survey, while "Launching or sustaining a project" is not an option in the 2020 survey.

How is innovation measured?

Adelaide has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations. Adelaide also brings innovation experts from around the world to participate in the city’s thought leadership programs to develop its internal capability.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector, academia and think tanks, to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development

Built environment

Waste and sewage



Digital governance

Environment and climate change

Government finance



Land use

Public works

Insufficient data


Social welfare/social services

Policing and law enforcement


Labour market and skills

Social inclusion and equity