Vancouver, B.C. proposes $30M smart cities plan

Thu, 2013-04-18 14:51 -- Liz Enbysk

Vancouver, B.C. city staff has laid out a $30 million smart cities plan for the city council that includes expanding the city's open data program, providing access to city services through digital platforms and providing an 'incubator' for digital businesses in the community.

The City of Vancouver Digital Strategy is the document prepared by staff outlining its nine-point plan for the city.

"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 document text outlining the challenges. "...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 its citizens, business and the organization."

Most of the plan's priorities, $28 million worth, that provide for major projects like permit and license transformation, have been funded and approved by the council. Staff has yet to create project and funding plans for remaining initiatives that will add an additional $1 million to $2 million in funding.

The priorities listed in the Digital Strategy plan include:

  • Enable city services across digital platforms
  • Expand the open data program
  • Promote digital activity through communication and engagement tools
  • Expand digital access throughout the city
  • Establish a digital incubator program for digital companies
  • Develop a favorable regulatory environment supporting the digital industry
  • Work with partners to support an agile proof of concept program
  • Implement digital services governance
  • Implement a mobile workforce strategy

However, the initiative faces a fair-sized challenge if it wants to ensure that all Vancouver residents can participate in the benefits to be provided by the initiative.

17% of city homes do not have Internet access and 5% of those that do are running low-speed dial-up access, which diminishes their ability to participate in a digital world "...filled with multi-media/streaming content for news, entertainment, education, community engagement and more," the plan document said.