Hopes were high on May 14 as regional stakeholders from the South Island Prosperity Project (SIPP) gathered at the Songhees Wellness Centre to find out, via video-link from Ottawa, if Greater Victoria would be one of two $10-million prize winners in Infrastructure Canada’s first Smart Cities Challenge.
The challenge is aimed at improving lives of residents through innovation, data and connected technology. The pan-Canadian competition was open to all municipalities, local or regional governments and Indigenous communities.
While Greater Victoria lost out to Nunavut and Guelph, Bruce Williams, interim CEO of SIPP, had good news anyway:
“We didn’t win the Smart City Challenge, but we’re still going to do smart things … We received $250,000 in federal funds to develop our local residents’ ideas around improving mobility, and we now have the chance to move some of these projects forward based on what we’ve learned throughout the process.”
One the projects SIPP will move forward on is a micro-transit solution for Indigenous students who struggle to find reliable, affordable transportation to attend post-secondary schools in the region. A memorandum of understanding has already been signed with Camosun College to develop and test a solution.
The other project is a partnership with ESRI, a global leader in geographic information systems (GIS), to build a data-sharing platform. The platform will bring local South Island governments together with third-party collaborators, like BC Transit and BC Ferries, and mobility companies, like U-Bicycle and Modo.
Williams also notes Montreal’s Smart Cities win in the $50-million category is also a win for Greater Victoria. The regions have formed a partnership to collaborate and capitalize on a shared approach to smart mobility.
SIPP is developing the Mobility Wellness Index, the world’s first index to measure the link between human health and how people move around their city. Montreal will contribute through its analytical work on mobility using Artificial Intelligence. The index will help cities gain insight through national and international comparisons.
This article is from the June/July 2019 issue of Douglas.