Nicola Valley welcomes the government of Canada’s Smart City Challenge

By on March 20, 2018
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by Dara Hill

If you had 5 million dollars to improve your community through data and connected technology, how would you spend it?”  That’s the question the Lower Nicola Indian Band is posing to the Nicola Valley as part of the Government of Canada’s Smart City Challenge.

The Canada-wide contest invites communities to imagine how connected technology, data and innovation can address local issues. It’s open to all municipalities, local or regional governments, and Indigenous communities across Canada.

Participating communities are challenged with the task of proposing an activity or project that will positively impact the quality of life for its residents. Proposals can focus on achieving outcomes in any area of community systems or services, and the goal of the contest is simple: to help communities become healthier, more inclusive and livable.

The Lower Nicola Indian Band initiated involvement in the contest, putting the region in the running for a 5 million dollar prize that would go towards turning their idea into reality. Carol Fielding, smart city challenge co-ordinator for the Lower Nicola Indian Band, noted the Band’s enthusiasm.

“Once they found out about the competition from the federal government they were pretty excited. They understand what an amazing contest this would be,” Fielding said.

The band’s first step has been to ask the community for their input, although Fielding noted it’s been somewhat of a challenge to get people to come alive with ideas.

The Lower Nicola Indian Band is far from giving up, however. They’ve created a survey for the public to share their ideas, and provided five lenses to view the challenge through: health, education, public safety, transportation, and life at home.

“So we’ve created the survey, we’re getting some feedback which is really good because I think once you give people something to think about, then it reduces the complexity of the project. People are starting to step up,” Fielding said.

In addition to the online survey, the team is also meeting with the public directly to discuss how technology would make our region a “smart city”.  One public meeting has already taken place, and another is scheduled for March 24 from 11:00a.m. – 4:00p.m. at Shulus Hall. This will allow the band to put together the first part of their submission: a “challenge statement” identifying their vision and idea for the judges.

Fielding explained the importance of starting these conversations.

“It’s groundbreaking. Many of us communities that are participating are actually creating the stage that this competition could be run on in future years.” Fielding said.

Whichever idea is selected for the competition, Fielding noted the benefits could be far-reaching.

“One way or another, it’s going to impact everybody,” Fielding said.

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