BLOG – Two-way Knowledge Exchange in a Heartwarming Office

24 september 2018

Quest is an international transfer program which connects Arcadians from all over the world. The Quest program is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation. Every week we are highlighting one of the stories of our employees who went on an exchange. In this blogpost we cover the Quest story of Jasper Bras who traveled from Amersfoort, the Netherlands to Sydney, Australia.

I’m on a plane on my way back from Sydney to Amsterdam writing this blog. I‘ve just finished my two-week Quest in Australia. My Australian colleagues and me organized a Quest exchange around MODe*, which stands for Mobility Oriented Development.

Why did I apply for a Quest

Australian city governments are investing in public infrastructure at a very large scale. I have been involved with the development of MODe since the very beginning and because Australia was one of the first and most successful regions to adapt this proposition, the decision for Australia was not very hard to make. Together with the Business Advisory teams in Australia we have been working on a program that maximally supports our knowledge exchange. We tried to squeeze as much in as possible in two weeks in order to get the most out of the Quest. Since Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne have been working with MODe I have been visiting all three cities.

The main goal was two-way knowledge sharing between the MODe practices and experiences in Australia and The Netherlands. In both countries we would like to gain more knowledge on how we could further customize our tooling. A better understanding of how we could apply the MODe methodology, depending on client needs (the customer experience), was one of the other key goals. We also tried to raise more awareness around MODe among the Australian colleagues and tried to help the people who work with the tool a bit further.

“This Quest gave me the opportunity to expand my and MODe’s network in the best way possible!”

Highlight of my Quest experience

After arrival I immediately noticed that it was freezing – leaving Amsterdam in the middle of a heatwave around 37 degrees for Sydney where it was around 0 degrees – had no winter jacket so not surprisingly the first thing I did was buying a scarf. But I completely warmed as soon as I arrived at the office on Monday morning, when everything started.

After fifteen workshops, three office presentations, several meetings and presentations for different partners and clients I must say that everyone is full of energy for mobility oriented planning. There is definitely a high potential market for this because current planning practice still relies mainly on low density and car-dependent urban development schemes.

I also noticed that because of Australian’s immense population growth and the trend of people moving to cities there is a development going towards creating complete new cities, starting from scratch at greenfield sites. This might also be the result of the space that is available for new towns unlike the European market where developments of independent new towns are hard to find. One of the new town projects is CLARA (Consolidated Land & Rail Australia). This is a long term strategic development of a Australian’s first high speed rail corridor that will connect Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. The corridor is also seen as a backbone for the development of up to eight new towns along route alignment. The project organization also has high ambitions to Smart Cities. After my presentation we had fruitful discussions on how to make these new cities compact, sustainable, smart and mobility oriented. Furthermore we discussed to workflow at Brisbane’s train station Roma Street, and the greenfield site Cloverton – one of these new towns to be developed by Stockland.

Unfortunately I was not able to see one of these terrorizing killer kangaroos in Brisbane suburbia. But luckily I was able to see them somewhere else because one of our colleagues from the Brisbane office was happy to show me around at one of the Koala sanctuaries with both koalas and kangaroos! I also got introduced to the one and only ‘Sally Slammer’ – but drank responsibly. Went to Aïda in the Sydney Opera House and had a swim at the Gold Coast.

Last but not least some small observation about Australians: it seems that they all like to surf, love their dogs and find sunny weather surprisingly important. Some of them even move to another city because of better weather conditions!

My Quest in one word

“Heart warming.”

Learnings and experiences

What did we all get back from this? Well, some clients are highly interested in our approach and would like to continue. Together with the Australian teams we are now looking on how we can turn these potential leads into real projects.

Some of the leads already have turned into real assignments. Other clients requested whether it is possible to customize the MODex tool according to their specific (program) needs. Together with some Australian teams we investigated how we could further tailor the tool to their wishes.

I would like to thank Lovinklaan for this unique experience. Great thanks to my main host who took great care of me and arranged most of the activities together with her team secretary. Also I would like to thank all the nice people I met and showed me around.

Feel free to contact me about my Quest experiences in detail or about MODe – I’m happy to tell you anything about MODe!

The international transfer program Quest, which connects Arcadians from all over the world, is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation.