IT World Canada

Vancouver and Surrey join forces for Smart Cities Challenge

The City of Vancouver and its neighbour Surrey are collaborating on a joint application for Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge.

Like the City of Toronto, both municipalities are seeking input from residents, entrepreneurs, academic centres, innovation hubs, and businesses on their submission for the challenge, which carries a prize of $50 million for the Canadian city that proves itself best prepared to improve the lives of its residents through innovation, data, and connected technology.

A joint Feb. 5 statement highlighted both cities’ recent successes in digitally transforming aspects of its residents’ lives, including Vancouver’s recent expansion of free public Wi-Fi across the city and Surrey’s closed-loop waste management system which converts residents’ waste into the biofuel powering city waste collection vehicles, along with the already-robust startup ecosystems that stand to benefit should they win the challenge.

“With the Smart Cities Challenge and in partnership with the City of Surrey, we can make our cities smarter and more connected by leveraging ideas that use data and connected technology to address complex urban challenges,” Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson said in the statement. “We’re calling on everyone to step up and give us their best ideas on how technology can make our cities even better places to live.”

In a statement of her own, Surrey mayor Linda Hepner called it “incredibly exciting” to imagine the possibilities that Surrey and Vancouver’s partnership could create.

“With ideas generated from our citizens, the cities of Surrey and Vancouver have an opportunity to realize smart city infrastructure investment that could prove transformational for our region and meaningfully benefit citizens’ quality of life for decades to come,” she said.

Announced in November, the Smart Cities Challenge aims to find the city that possesses what federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi has called the boldest, most experimental, inclusive, empowering, and digitally transformative ideas in Canada.

“As a former city councillor, I know first-hand that local leadership understands best what their communities need,” Sohi wrote in a February message, adding that “when… talented people come together in pursuit of a common goal, they can come up with inspired solutions that will have a real and tangible impact.”

Both Vancouver CTO Jessie Adcock and Surrey IT director Sean Simpson said the Smart Cities Challenge could prove to be a game changer for the region by serving as the catalyst for a once-in-a-generation digital transformation that could shape future city services, with residents encouraged to align their proposals with one of the following focus areas:

Vancouver or Surrey-based readers interested in learning more about the Smart Cities Challenge, or submitting an idea, are invited to do so here.