The most vital cities in the world enable their communities with leading-edge technology that engages, informs and empowers. I was proud to Chair Markham’s Information Communications Technology Committee as our vision for achieving this was built on a commitment to modern infrastructure, smart communities, and technological innovation. As a city, Markham is only now beginning a journey – defining what a ‘Smart City’ means to the residents, businesses and City of Markham corporately. The journey to become not just a smart city but a leading intelligent community will stall without the political leadership and a commitment by residents and business to play an active and engaged role in this journey. To make change happen, we need to create a truly compelling vision – but that vision needs to be a collective one of what we, as residents of Markham, define as Smart/Digital Markham. Building on being the ‘high tech’ Capital of Canada, we should explore what it means to be a ‘smart city’ technologically, what the ‘internet of everything’ means to everyday residents and business in our city and how we can develop a world class communications infrastructure to support economic development and increase our competitive advantage.
- Hosted the Smart Markham forum in 2014 and began the planning on a digital strategy to realize Markham's potential as a city where technology fuels opportunity, inclusion, engagement, and innovation for all.
- Worked towards making Markham more technologically efficient, saving residents and business money and time. In 2013, we unveiled ACCESS Markham allowing people to download an application to their smartphone for various Markham services.
- As a member of the LED Task Force, we unveiled new LED light standards with sensors which tells city staff when a light is no longer working, saving time and money by not having to send crews out to look for burned out bulbs.
Ideas that I will bring forth may include sensors in our roads which give information about the amount of snowfall or ice build-up to better dispatch winter clearing. Also, thinking of the internet as utility able to provide an entire range of services. The time has come and we must capitalize on this opportunity.
What would I do?
- We should make Markham the easiest place to start a new business in Canada.
- Expand the relationship of VentureLab to provide for partnership opportunities between entrepreneurial start-ups and Markham. Technology start-ups in particular, can foster a new way of thinking and approach to delivering municipal services.
- Technology start-ups can bring new thinking to city services. Partnering with start-ups can help to build on being Canada’s high-tech capital.
- The agreements signed with countries around the world must be more than ‘photo ops’. We need to promote Markham’s economy more effectively and foster real economic development relationships regionally, nationally and internationally.