The four-year plan envisions expansion of Vancouver’s open data program, access to city services through digital platforms and an incubator for local digital businesses

Vancouver unveils $30M high-tech city plan

The Vancouver city staff has unveiled before city council, a $30 million plan to turn the Canadian city into a high-tech integrated digital community over a period of four years.

In a document titled City of Vancouver Digital Strategy, the staff outlined the plan’s nine-point strategy which includes expansion of an open data program, promotion of digital access to city services and establishment of a digital incubator program for local businesses.
 

“The challenge for Vancouver and perhaps all cities, is to be more agile under the sometimes complicating pressures of consumer-driven technology adoption and expectations and the increasing need to minimize risk and maximize value,” according to the document. “…The Digital Strategy sets out a four-year roadmap that moves Vancouver’s approach to digital from ad hoc and often siloed to integrated and strategic, prioritizing key initiatives that demonstrate the greatest value for citizens, business and the organization.”

The city staff estimates that the initiative will cost approximately $30 million over the life of the strategy.

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Majority of the priority actions, which amount to $28 million and include major projects such as the permit and license transformation, already have funding in place and have been approved by the city council as part of its 2013 budget process.

City staff still needs to develop project and funding plans as well as secure council approval for the remaining initiatives which will require $1 million to $2 million of city funding.

The project’s nine priorities are:

1. Enable city services across digital platforms
2. Expand the open data program
3. Promote digital activity through communication and engagement tools
4. Expand digital access throughout the city
5. Establish a digital incubator program for digital companies
6. Create a favourable regulatory environment that supports the digital industry
7. Work with partners to support an agile proof of concept program
8. Establish digital services governance
9. Implement a mobile workforce strategy

The city staff also highlighted a 2001 Statistic Canada report on a growing “digital divide” in the country between people that have access to information communication technologies (ICT) and those that do not. The staff said impediments to providing ICT access to citizens still remain today.

Only 54 per cent of households with incomes of $30,000 or less have Internet access, while 97 per cent of households with incomes of more than $97,000 have Internet access, according to a StatsCan 2010 report.

While Canadians continue to rank among the world’s top Internet users, online access is not easy for everyone and that digital skills and ability vary by age and income, according to the city staff report.

“In Vancouver 17 per cent of city homes don not have Internet access and five per cent of homes that do have Internet access are using low-speed dial-up access, limiting their ability to participate in the high-speed digital world, which is filled with multi-media/ streaming content for news, entertainment, education, community engagement and more,” the report said.

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