By Bill Hutchison P.Eng, FCIPS, FWAPS

A tsunami wave of new communications technologies, products and services will wash over the world in the next five years. Fifth generation, (5G” wireless, new cloud and edge communications architectures supporting new levels of broadband, 100 to 1,000 times greater than today’s averages will begin supporting an estimated 1 million sensors in each of our mid-sized cities. These new broadband capabilities will support the future promises of AI, big data, autonomous vehicles, remote healthcare and other future visions for the environment, social opportunities and improved productivity in all fields.

Countries, regions and cities that lead in establishing these new foundations and harvesting the opportunities will be tomorrow’s global leaders achieving higher levels of prosperity, sustainability and overall citizen happiness.

Canada has the elements necessary to be one of the global leaders while achieving the following:

  1. The creation of new advanced communications infrastructures across Canada in cities as well as rural and remote regions,
  2. New job opportunities with the large global communications products companies like Nokia and Ericsson in their significant Canadian facilities and in the many other companies in our communications sector,
  3. New customer applications with export opportunities for our many solutions and service companies as they expand into new business in Canada and create pioneering applications for capturing the rapidly growing export market in the economic, social and environmental dimensions of a $3 trillion global Smart Cities market.

Our governments are already making multimillion-dollar investments in research for AI and other technologies and research platforms like ENCQOR for 5G. Now we need to establish a national collaboration initiative with private and public sector input supported by federal participation to plan and create the most effective nationwide advanced communications infrastructure.

We have collaboratively tackled big communications challenges before. Twenty-five years ago, there was no national infrastructure connecting our provincial research and education networks. A national collaboration initiative supported by the federal government resulted in the creation of CANARIE Inc. When it was announced, the Ottawa Citizen’s headlines predicted: “This Bird Will Never Fly”. The Citizen fell to earth but CANARIE has been a world leader with its regional partners in all provinces and territories across Canada. Other models have also succeeded; the timing is urgent, we can do it again while quickly and efficiently supporting new national opportunities for the private sector, cities and other public sector organizations.

Bill Hutchison has been a Cofounder, Board Director and often Founding Chair for fourteen Canadian not for profit organizations including CANARIE, CATA, The Canadian Information Productivity Awards, KINSA-The Kids Internet Safety Alliance, i-CANADA Alliance, Precarn and others focused on supporting Canada’s transformation and evolution in the ever-evolving digital revolution.