Vancouver, Surrey prepare for future

While smart cities may be imminent, how they’re developed is still a question mark.  Fortunately, Vancouver and Surrey will soon have answers.

Both cities are exploring how to develop their respective corridors with tomorrow’s technologies by using superlative international projects as inspiration. The cities’ shared goal of improving residents’ lives will be realized through a competition involving companies from all over the world, with the winner receiving $50 million to fulfill their visions.

Jesse Adcock, the City of Vancouver’s chief technology officer, says the chosen projects will have to improve citizens’ safety and mobility, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and collisions.

“We provided the physical characteristics in each city’s corridor and asked the industry how their technology projects will solve particular problems,” she said. “We had over 172 proposals come in from all over the world that represent hundreds of projects, and we managed to shortlist them down to 55 vendors and 81 projects.”

Residents, businesses and other stakeholders have also been encouraged to provide as much input as possible around six themes put forth by Infrastructure Canada, and while it’s still too early to describe what smart cities in Vancouver and Surrey will look like, they will incorporate intelligent traffic and data collection systems, censors, autonomous shuttles and last mile vehicles.

“By having a strong technology backbone, you’re preparing for a new economy,” said Adcock, “because you provide a backdrop for people to innovate and learn new skills through having these new technologies. In cities that have advanced connectivity like 5G, it opens up a whole new paradigm of what people can do, and that generates economic activity for everybody. As the world shifts, we want to make sure that our cities are advancing as well, especially given the impact that automation will have on our economies. We need to stay current on technology and how we manage our cities. Cities that are run efficiently are better for their local economies, in general.”

Jon Stovell, president and CEO of Reliance Properties, who was part of a Smart City Panel with Adock last week in Vancouver, told CREW that cities simply don’t have a choice about whether or not to build smart technologies into their infrastructure.

“Cities that don’t keep up with this type of digitization across a whole range of services encompassing a range of activities will fall far behind. It goes from how government works to how traffic control works. It won’t happen overnight, but anybody who doesn’t embrace it will be left behind, especially as cities get bigger and denser.”

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