Smart Cities Make British Columbians’ Lives Better

Smart Cities Make British Columbians’ Lives Better

November 29, 2018 Posted by Vivian Lui

Smart cities are urban areas that collect information from citizens and devices to create efficiencies and improve sustainability in traffic, waste management, hospitals and other community services. In the small town of Fujisawa, Japan, all of its houses are equipped with solar panels and fuel generators. This gives the town the ability to function off the grid for up to three days. Closer to home, the city of Vancouver uses a technology known as “The Dashboard” to organize the data from the thousands of emails and calls the city receives to better prioritize which issues need immediate attention. Being able to use data and technology presents a real opportunity for the economy to benefit, as well as a wonderful way of enhancing community life.

In May 2018, British Columbia launched its own Smart Communities pilot program. This program challenged municipalities and First Nations groups under 30,000 in population to submit proposals identifying innovative technology that could be used to overcome everyday challenges. The proposals had to address at least one of these areas: energy efficiency and climate action, economic diversity and growth, community safety and resiliency, efficient transportation and citizen engagement.

In November 2018, the B.C. provincial government announced the results. The District of Logan Lake, Prince Rupert, Port Alberni and Castlegar, Nelson, Rossland and Trail will all receive grants to implement home-grown solutions that address local needs. The funds will be used to develop projects such as a mobile app in Logan Lake where people can access timely emergency information, as well as information on road safety, accidents and road closures in the area. The City of Port Alberni’s project will link potential volunteers with volunteer opportunities through a new online volunteer engagement system. The project aims to improve community connectedness and volunteerism by allowing volunteer organizations to better schedule, manage, communicate and recruit volunteers.

At the federal level, the Government of Canada issued a $300 million Smart Cities Challenge to develop ideas that would improve the lives of Canadian residents using connected technology.  Across Canada, over 200 communities submitted proposals, including the B.C. cities of Richmond, Kelowna and Vancouver. The final proposals are due in March 2019, and the winners will be announced in the spring of next year.

Around the world, B.C. companies are showcasing how their expertise in information and communication technology (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used for smart cities. In September and October 2018, British Columbia trade and investment representatives were part of a Canadian booth at Municipalika in Mumbai, India and the India Mobile Congress in Delhi, India. These events focused on smart cities, technology and innovation. In Indonesia, our trade and investment representative office supported B.C. technology companies like Avigilon, Codan Radio, Hootsuite, MDA and Sierra Wireless at Communic Indonesia in October 2018. This was a premier ICT event where experts around the world held panels and discussions regarding smart cities, cyber security and cloud and big data.
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