Date Published: March 20, 2018, 4:21 p.m.
lready well known for its vibrant digital technology sector, Montréal has the potential to become a world-class model of the “smart city”, driven by its flourishing creativity and spirit of collaboration. More than ever before, Montréalers themselves are both the creators and principal beneficiaries of their quality of life and economic prosperity.Montréalers are among the most digitally-savvy people on the planet, and this city is busting with creative types, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and other multi-talented players.Today, technology provides us with numerous opportunities to pool this wealth of talent. Through technology, citizens can make their desires known and can influence the decisions that affect them, creatives and innovators can propose more effective solutions, and entrepreneurs can launch ground-breaking new services which are in turn brought to a global market by astute investors. By becoming a smart city, Montréal is choosing to bring these talented individuals together, improving the quality of life for all in the process.With its goals of making Montréal a global model for the smart city by 2017 and tapping in to this enormous potential, in spring 2014 the city established its Smart and Digital City Office. Its team has the mission of providing a framework for the kind of transformational projects that affect every aspect of life here, whether they involve government, infrastructure, public services or social issues.In order for this transformation to reflect the real needs of Montréal’s citizens, the office has entered into a major dialogue with institutional and private sectors, municipal workers and the citizens themselves. By analyzing the over one million phone calls and 40,000 emails to the 311 information service logged in 2013, the responses of over 7,600 Montréalers over 4 surveys, consultations with over 400 participants as part of local co-design activities, and by rubbing elbows with people all over the island, the office has developed a clear understanding of what matters most to Montréalers.Inspired by global best practices and stimulated by an ongoing exchange with Montréalers, the Smart and Digital City Office targets 5 main areas of activity: urban mobility, direct services to citizens, quality of life, the democratic process and economic development. These are the themes that from now until 2017 will become the foundation for the strategic development of Montréal, smart and digital city.Structural initiativesInspired by global best practices, stimulated by an ongoing dialog with its citizens, Montréal, Smart and Digital City is working in nine key areas to make Montréal a world renowned leader among smart and digital cities by 2017.Since its creation in 2014, the Smart and Digital City Office has spearheaded a rigorous initiative that’s helped it identify what really matters to Montréalers.In a collaborative approach, the experience and ingenuity of our citizens, our municipal employees, public institutions and corporations has been put to contribution in order to develop a know-how in terms of innovation and to contribute to the emergence of original solutions to urban problems.Technology is used is used to leverage economic growth and make concrete improvements to Montrealers’ quality of life. The Smart and Digital City office focuses on nine areas of activity:
“Digital” has become synonymous with “connected”. Hence the keen desire to make Wi-Fi access available throughout the city. As for its wired networks, the city is encouraging development of high speed services to every residence and business. As well, telecom networks will be integrated in urban planning in a systematic fashion.
The city is bursting with a wealth of useful data that can simplify the daily lives of its citizens, from swimming pool schedules to snow removal information. The more this information is made available publicly, the more it can be used to its full potential.
Every day in every corner of the city, hundreds of systems are in operation. Whether it involves transportation or access to municipal services, citizens deal with a single administration. However, the information carried by these systems all too often remains compartmentalized. By facilitating the flow of information between systems, data sharing is enhanced and the systems themselves become more intelligent. The Three-Year Capital Works Program (TCWP) will be put to good use to bring the city’s technology architecture up to speed to better promote data sharing.
Montréalers are in no way lacking in ideas or talent. Once they rally around a cause, they know how to come up with concrete solutions. Businesses, public institutions, universities and individuals thus will be invited to come together to help find and assess solutions to the daily challenges in our lives.
Montréalers are people in constant motion. Mobility becomes one of the key elements in our quality of life and economic prosperity. The real time collection, treatment and sharing of data will help enhance transportation fluidity and optimize travel. Finding the right route and mode of transportation will become that much easier!
Montréalers are among the most plugged-in people on earth and will directly benefit from digital services made available to them by their city. Faster and more effective, municipal services will adapt and become so much more accessible!
“Public innovation labs” will bring together citizens who want to test drive new public services. Close to home and part of the public library network, Montréalers will be invited to workshops to get to know these digital tools better. After all, who better than a citizen to test the city’s newest mobile app?
Montréalers want greater transparency from their elected officials. Thanks to new technologies, they will now have full access to public debates, the main municipal performance indicators, whether these regard budgets, how projects are progressing or level of service. Montréalers will never be closer to those they elected.
To maximize the economic returns of the smart city, we need to encourage entrepreneurs, attract outside talent and promote cross-pollination between research, industry, venture capital, investors and start-ups. In this way Montréal will become an enormous laboratory that nurtures local talent, developing technology solutions together with them which in turn can be exported, all while creating and protecting jobs locally.