Ottawa’s Smart City Strategy, Councillor Jan Harder, Ottawa City


Ottawa’s Smart City Strategy, Councillor Jan Harder

Over the last few months, I have written on Ottawa’s Smart City Strategy – Smart City 2.0.  Most recently, Ottawa has been hard at work getting prepared for its bid to win the Government of Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge.

In November 2017, the Federal Government announced a Canada-wide competition for communities to submit a bid and compete for a top prize of $50 000 000.  The idea behind this challenge is to get people in communities across Canada to think outside the box, partner with businesses, academia and non-profit and put forth their best strategies in making their community use data and technology to confront the issues that affect cities today.  It is about using innovative ideas to make a community more prosperous and safer and engaged in better environmental practices.  At the end of the day, the Smart City’s ultimate goal is to improve a citizen’s quality of life.

The contest is open to all communities, including municipalities, regional governments, and Indigenous communities.  The prizes are huge.  The top prize is up to $50 million and open to any size community.  There are two prizes of up to $10 million to communities with a population of under 500 000.  The third prize is up to $5 million to a community with a population under 30 000.  The competition is open until April 24, 2018 and an independent jury will select the finalists and winners.  The winners are expected to be announced in Spring 2019.  A list of finalists will be released Summer 2018 and these individuals will each receive $250 000 to develop their proposals.

The City of Ottawa has been asking for your ideas.  Specifically, the City has been asking you to identify the most important challenges that you think the city will face in the future.  Furthermore, how do you think the City can better use technology to make Ottawa an even better place to live, work and play?  The City’s questionnaire is now closed but that should not stop you from sending your Councillor the ideas that you have.  From smart sensors to help with traffic, GPS tracking on buses, open date and better connectivity are just a few things that makes a city smart.  The City wants to know what you would like to see that would make your life better.  Muhammad Ali stated, “The man who has no imagination has no wings.”  With your ideas, the possibilities are endless. The essence of a Smart City strategy is collaboration.  Certainly, it is a meshing of both government, business, non-profit and academia but also citizen input is vital for a true open and inclusive process.