Amsterdam. Barcelona. London. These cities all share a connection to a rich European past, but now they also share a drive to be...

Smart & Connected Community Data Strategy Launched-Story & Video


Amsterdam. Barcelona. London.

These cities all share a connection to a rich European past, but now they also share a drive to be the smart cities of the future.

But, what is a smart city, a connected community?

Experts in the field often say it’s a community that uses technology like sensors, beacons, wireless, and smart devices to collect data that drives innovation across multiple sectors. In turn, those innovations can improve the quality of life for its citizens and create continued economic growth for a community.

Enterprise Saint John thinks Saint John is perfectly poised to be a smart city because of its technology, people and strategic location.

“Enterprise Saint John and its partners have a vision for the Saint John region to become ‘Canada’s Most Connected Community’. Our strategic location coupled with the strong  existing connections between our industrial base, business, innovators and researchers make us the ideal place to create this  ‘Smart & Connected Community Data Strategy’ project,” says Enterprise Saint John CEO, Steve Carson.

To make the strategy a reality, ESJ connected with local experts in the IT private sector, the City of Saint John, and educational institutions, including the CISCO Chair in Big Data at UNBSJ.

Monica Wachowicz says, it’s important for business and governments to work together especially if conservative predictions are accurate-that as many as 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020.

“We’re not only going to be connecting cars, our cell phones or home appliances. The cities where we live will become part of a constellation where the things that are smart and connected, will provide us with a flow of data and we need to be prepared for that,” says Wachowicz.

The mayor of the City of Saint John, Don Darling, agrees.  The city is already looking at data sets to find efficiency for its water and transportation systems, but the chance to find more savings for the often cash-strapped city coffers is exciting and so are the possibilities for the future.

“I think there is tremendous opportunity here.  A made-in-Saint-John solution with our partners in this project to not only find solutions that work for Saint John, but also other municipalities across North America,” says Darling.

Erin Flood is anxious for more municipalities and people to get on board with smart and connected communities. As co-founder of Open Data Atlantic, she tries to help citizens understand data sets and how they can be analyzed to improve the way they live, work and play.

“What do you do when you wake up in the morning? You probably might check social media. There’s data collection. How do you get to work? You might take a transportation system, there’s data collection and when you think about data, we’re collecting and how you can use it to improve services by actually analyzing it and seeing the meaning it has to a citizen’s lifestyle, that’s when it becomes really powerful,” says Flood

Understanding that power and how it can be harnessed to drive economic growth will be the focus of Enterprise Saint John’s Smart & Connected Community Data Strategy. The Government of Canada is providing ESJ with a non-repayable contribution of $1,151,780 through ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund. The Government of New Brunswick is investing $100,000 while ESJ is investing $110,248 towards the project. Cisco is providing in-kind contributions of $200,000, while Bell Aliant is providing $60,000. That brings the entire project to more than $ 1.6 million.

Over the next 3 years, there are plans to expand infrastructure to improve WiFi capabilities in Uptown Saint John, a data repository will be built to house data sets from industry, businesses, and the tourism sector.

Innovators and researchers will mine those data sets and information to come up with solutions to problems faced by business or the community, but also come up with opportunities or applications that can be marketed to the world.

It’s expected it will take 6-8 months for the data repository to be built, but work has already begun on projects and researchers are already deciding what data will be collected and used.

Take a look at this video or learn more about the specific projects that will happen with industry, business and tourism here.

Story originally published in the Saint John Telegraph Journal on May 29, 2017