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article imageVancouver in the running for the smart cities challenge

By Tim Sandle     Jun 14, 2018 in Technology
Vancouver - Two of Canada’s three largest cities are among the finalists for Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge - Vancouver, Montreal and Waterloo. Up for grabs is a first prize of $50 million.
While there are various 'smart city' prizes up for grabs (with four categories in all), it is Vancouver; Edmonton; Montreal; Quebec City; and Waterloo, Ontario; which will each compete for the largest of the prizes, which is worth $50 million. The contenders were announced by Canada's Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi for the Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge.
$300 million investment in Canadian smart cities
The Smart Cities Challenge program stream is intended to help communities to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology. This process is overseen by Infrastructure Canada, and there will be $300 million in funding over an eleven year period.
What about Toronto?
Toronto s finance district by Tim Sandle.
Toronto's finance district by Tim Sandle.
Cities that failed to make the list included Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax. Perhaps the most interesting exclusion is Toronto, where the Technology Centre is widely acknowledged as a growing hub of innovation and talent ("Leader’s view on Canadian tech centers"); and with developments like plans by Sidewalk Labs, the company owned by Google's parent Alphabet, is to transform Toronto's Eastern waterfront into the first 'digital city' ("Mixed reactions to Toronto's waterfront becoming a 'digital city'"). Further with Toronto's claim to be a hot-bed of Canadian technology, Samsung looks set to open an artificial intelligence center in Toronto.
Vancouver is the front runner
A rainy day in Vancouver s Stanley Park.
A rainy day in Vancouver's Stanley Park.
Thorfinn Stainforth
Despite Toronto hitting the headlines recently, the City of Surrey and City of Vancouver, British Columbia, which is the favorite for the first prize, was Canada’s first city to implement a digital strategy some five years ago. This was, IT Business Canada noted, with the intention of transforming the internal processes of the municipal government and the public services. This was based on four pillars: engagement and access, digital economy, digital assets, and infrastructure and organizational maturity.
According to Jessie Adcock, who was the Vancouver’s first chief digital officer (and currently chief information officer): "We embarked on this digital journey really early on for a municipal government and looking at where we are now, we’ve undergone a huge digital maturity curve. We’re a data-driven organization with a very robust, horizontal, digital business unit that works with all of our other business units to support their technology and digital needs. I feel like we’ve shown what successful transformation looks like."
A smart mobility solution
Vancouver has been nominated for its smart city transport plans, which are summarized as a plan to implement: "Canada's first two collision-free multi-modal transportation corridors, leveraging autonomous vehicles and smart technologies to demonstrate the path to safer, healthier and more socially connected communities while reducing emissions, improving transportation efficiency and enhancing livability in the face of rapid growth and traffic congestion."
Smart mobility solutions and innovations are set to include autonomous shuttles, smart mobility infrastructure, advanced data and analytics, and and an enhanced user experience.
Over 200 communities participated in the Challenge when it began in June 2017. There's still a way to go, with the winners scheduled to be announced in spring 2019.
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