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Economic Development and IoT for Cities

March 20, 2018


by Bill Dupley

Economic Development was the #1 topic according to the National League of Cities latest report.[i]  What is very interesting is that Data/Technology and has dropped to the 10th position on the list of Issues this year.

I am not surprised by this.  I was reading an article about a city that implemented an IoT project in 2015 and declared all the things they were going to be able to do with it yet, to date I have not seen any whitepapers produced on what it accomplished.  Unclear results or measures of technology projects is a typical behavior with new technologies. Many think that implementing new technology is going to solve their problems, but they often do not link the project well to the problem they are trying to solve, and as a result, it does not produce value.

IoT and other technologies have great promise to help cities increase revenue and lower their operating costs. However, they have to be tied well to real business results, or we can end up with projects that were a good idea but showed no real benefit.

Economic development success: Open Data                                   

Municipalities can address issues such as economic development by exploring how new technology such as IOT will help them address the problem.  Seattle is an excellent example of this.  They did not try to think of all the possible applications that could be done but instead depended on the creativity of their local business development community to exploit the data that they collected.  They created the Seattle Open Data Project[ii]. Here is an excellent example of economic development that is a direct result of this initiative.

“A Seattle-based company called Porch.com[iii]Porch.com uses city work permits, licenses, and other residential construction information to create a searchable database. Porch.com is free to use, is a favorite of homeowners, professional builders, and others, who rely on the site to compare ideas and get a baseline for the costs of specific projects.[iv]

San Francisco is another example of a thriving Open Data city.  “SF OpenData is the City and County of San Francisco’s official open data portal and is a product of the official open data program, DataSF. Launched in 2009, the portal contains hundreds of city datasets for use by developers, analysts, residents, and more.” [v]

There are now over 40 examples of how Open Data can transform a city. [vi]

 Economic Development success: BizPal[vii]

Closely related to these Open Data projects is another example of technology that is contributing to economic development in Canada.  It is called BizPal. BizPal is now used in all Canadian provinces and territories to integrate governments and speed up the process of starting new businesses.

“BizPaL is an online service that benefits Canadian businesses by helping them identify which permits and licences they require and how to obtain them. Entrepreneurs simply select the business activities they plan to undertake and BizPaL then automatically generates a list of all required permits and licences from all levels of government (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal). Along with basic information on each, and links to government sites where the entrepreneur can learn more and, in some cases, apply online.”[viii]

BizPal dramatically reduces the time and complexity of starting a business, enabling Entrepreneurs to focus on what they do best, create work and economic improvement in their communities.

City of Stratford: Parking IoT Project

FoxNet has been working with the City of Stratford to implement their first IoT initiative. The goal of smart parking initiative project is economic development.

“The smart parking initiative, which brings the City together with partners eleven-x, FoxNet and Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX), involves sensors embedded in the asphalt that will send signals to a low power wireless network indicating whether vehicles are parked in the spaces.”[ix]

By making the data public, it will enable entrepreneurs to access the data and develop unique applications that can guide visitors to restaurants, retail, and theatres, and enhance economic development. It will also help the City of Stratford improve city planning and parking development activities.

How to start on your journey to a Citywide IoT transformation

As I mentioned, the National League of Cities states that there are ten major issues facing cities today.  These issues are:

  1. Economic Development: Increasing Economic Growth
  2. Public Safety: Improving Public Safety
  3. Infrastructure: Managing Infrastructure and Maintenance
  4. Budgets: Reducing costs and improving overall Financial efficiency
  5. Housing: Improving future housing
  6. Education: Improving Education experiences and financial efficiency
  7. Energy/Environment: Reducing energy costs and improving the environment
  8. Demographics
  9. Health Care
  10. Data/Technology

There are extensive IoT examples available for each of these issues that have already been implemented in cities all over the world and have proven to produce results.

To help our customers identify where IoT solutions may be of assistance in their municipality, FoxNet has developed a new IoT Conversation for Cities workshop.  During the workshop, FoxNet will present detailed case studies of cities that have implemented IoT solutions to address these issues. Foxnet will also facilitate a discussion on each of these areas, and collect IoT Business scenarios and Functional use cases from the workshop attendees. The result of the workshop will be a report containing a list of potential IoT pilot projects that a city can undertake to address these issues.

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I was born and have lived in Southern Ontario for most of my life.  It has profoundly bothered me to see factories closing and communities impacted all over our province. Economic development is a critical requirement to ensure our youth have opportunities in their hometowns. IoT and other technologies have great promise to help municipalities create new opportunities and attract jobs back to our towns and cities

I look forward to working with you to make this happen.

Follow-up Material

For additional Information on our “IoT Conversation for Cities workshop” please download this data sheet or contact Rob Henry at rob@foxnetsolutions.com

[i] https://www.nlc.org/sites/default/files/2017-05/NLC%20State%20of%20the%20Cities%202017.pdf

[ii] https://data.seattle.gov/

[iii] https://porch.com/

[iv] https://socrata.com/blog/economic-impact-open-data/

[v] https://data.sfgov.org/about

[vi] https://carto.com/blog/forty-brilliant-open-data-projects-preparing-smart-cities-2018/

[vii] https://www.halifax.ca/business/doing-business-halifax/get-business-permits-licences-online

[viii] https://www.bizpal.ca/en/faq/

[ix] https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/02/21/1372646/0/en/Stratford-Partners-with-ODX-eleven-x-FoxNet-on-Smart-Parking-Pilot-Project.html

About the Author 

Bill Dupley is a Digital Strategist at FoxNet. He has led IT transformation and strategic planning teams for over 50 companies and governments worldwide and bring extensive experience in IT & Business Strategic Planning, IT process design, and enterprise architecture. Bill has held several positions over his career including the Cloud Chief Technologist for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Canada and Director of Strategy and Business Development for HPE Canada Consulting.

He is a graduate of Ryerson University, a former member of the HPE IT Global SWAT Team, and a member of the Open Data Center Alliance Cloud Maturity Model authorship team. He is dedicated to helping customers equip themselves rapidly for our ever-changing technological world.

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