October 4, 2021
British Columbia’s (B.C.) temperate climate, cosmopolitan cities, and clean environment provide a quality of life that draws people from around the world. With a trend of urbanization, comes the challenge of resource management and service delivery. Many British Columbia cities have stepped up to use smart technologies to find efficiency and improve the lives of their citizens.
As a leader of smart cities in British Columbia, the City of Vancouver has lofty goals of digitally transforming the city by using data and connected technology to address local issues. It created VanConnect, a mobile application that allows citizens to submit service requests about graffiti or broken streetlights anywhere, anytime. Vancouver is the first Canadian city to require that all new houses and developments install wiring to allow for future charging stations for electric vehicles. To encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, by late 2021 a fast-charging station will be within a 10-minute drive of most parts of Vancouver. There is also a program to reduce vehicle idling and wasteful fuel use by looking at data from 1,000 city vehicles to gain insight into route optimization, idling, and other fuel reduction strategies. The cities of Vancouver and Surrey entered a joint application to Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge in 2020 and are finalists with the idea to implement two collision-free transportation corridors, relying on autonomous vehicles and smart technologies to create safer streets while reducing emissions and improving transportation efficiency.
The municipal government has implemented an Intelligent New Westminster Strategic Plan and is committed to pursuing innovation through different means to become a world-recognized intelligent community. There is Bridgenet, the city’s dark fibre network for residents and businesses to enable digital solutions that will increase citizen engagement, improve service delivery, and access. The city also signed an Innovation Partnership Agreement with the New Westminster School District to increase digital innovation in education. This includes the New Media Gallery, which offers the public a reality that is transformed by technology and art. Within the facility, there is a new Learning Lab – a dedicated programming space that contains a growing array of sophisticated teaching technologies for primary and secondary students.
The city was recognized by the Intelligent Communities Forum (ICF) as one of the Smart21 cities in 2017. With a population of 10,000 people, Nelson leverages technology to communicate with residents and visitors. It is one of the cities in the Smart Kootenays Digital Mobility Platform Proposal, which will develop a transportation app to show users real-time travel data including road safety issues, closures, wait times, and natural disasters. The City of Nelson, together with Selkirk College, also developed the Selkirk-SME Applied Research and Technology Solutions (SMARTS) program to connect small and medium enterprises with applied research expertise in the fields of geospatial and digital fabrication technologies.
The capital city of British Columbia consists of thirteen urban and rural municipalities and is home to a $5 billion high-tech sector. The South Island Prosperity Project is developing the Mobility Wellness Index, to measure the link between human health and how people move around in the city. Victoria was one of the finalists for Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge in 2020, with a focus on improving transportation for all of its citizens and to improving their Mobility Wellness score through a multi-modal transportation system. Victoria is moving forward with implementing micro-transit for its local college students and looking at a data-sharing platform to analyze how the different modes of transportation are being used. The data will be shared with the public transit system, the ferries system, and ride-share vehicles and bicycles to optimize routes and improve on traffic efficiencies.
Coquitlam uses technology to enhance community life across a wide spectrum of operations from online eServices, to free Wi-Fi access in city parks and facilities, to LED streetlights. Since 2018, the city has also implemented a Technology Roadmap that fosters innovation and improves business functions. It prioritizes remote work solutions, physically distanced service delivery, and enhanced cybersecurity measures. Using virtual reality, the city allows staff and the public to take realistic walkthroughs of proposed developments and see how they fit into the neighbourhood. Coquitlam also uses an interactive city map for residents to find zoning information, utility, and property data, as well as city facilities locations. To assist with tourism, there are also community information hubs and wayfinding information at key transportation points.
From small towns to large urban cities, British Columbia sees the benefits of leveraging technologies to create efficiencies for its citizens. Companies and governments work together to showcase their expertise in information and communication technology (ICT). The fast information sharing presents an opportunity for the economy to benefit, as well as a wonderful way of enhancing community life. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for more updates and sector trends.
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