Skip to main content

Cooperation is key: why smart cities depend on a collaborative ecosystem of innovation

Tess Van Thielen, Vice President of Advanced Services with Rogers, explains why governments and innovators need to work together

The connected cities of tomorrow will not be created by people and organizations working in isolation. They will be designed and brought to life through a process of collaboration and partnership. Governments, corporations and boutique technologists will come together to develop and implement practical, progressive solutions.

Cooperation is key, said Tess Van Thielen, Vice President of the Advanced Services Portfolio at Rogers for Business. She explained why in her presentation at Next is Now: The Future of Cities, a digital event put together by CityAge and Communitech in partnership with Rogers.  Tess spoke to an audience of more than 400 decision makers and thought leaders. She explored the way various stakeholders, working together, are using technology to change our urban communities for the better.

The benefits of connected communities

There is an ongoing, massive surge in the number of connected devices both globally and locally, within Canada. Tess discussed how this growing web of technology is helping drive investments in smart city solutions, improving everything from infrastructure to sustainability.

Smart sensors are… helping to drive sustainability, reduce emissions and conserve energy to improve the efficiency of buildings and even entire cities.

- Tess Van Thielen, VP, Advanced Services at Rogers

"We live in a time of profound change that is forcing cities, businesses, and people to transform the way they interact," she explained. "The Internet of Things (IoT) is extending the internet beyond smartphones. Smart sensors are automating things that were once manual, and are helping to drive sustainability, reduce emissions and conserve energy to improve the efficiency of buildings and even entire cities."

She illustrated her point with numerous examples. For instance, IoT sensors can quickly detect leaky city pipes, which can help save enormous amounts of water, energy and physical labour.  Connected technologies are also improving transportation in myriad ways, including self-driving public transportation vehicles, as well as signage and apps that provide commuters with up-to-the-minute information so that they can adjust travel paths and reduce traffic congestion.

"Governments and businesses are learning to adapt to this new environment and to evolve to meet citizens' needs in new ways," she said, adding that she's most enthralled by the connected technologies we have yet to even imagine.

Why we need to work together

But as exciting as the solutions taking root in connected cities may be, they don't happen in a vacuum. They require collaboration between distinct organizations and businesses to come to fruition.

"No one can do this alone," said Tess. "We all have to work together and support each other. We need to co-create, we need to share information."

"It's about commitment to the common good. That really is essential to defining where we go as a community."

To that end, Rogers has created an ecosystem of alliances with governments, businesses and universities. A collaboration with the University of Waterloo to test driverless shuttles is showing how smaller cities may be able to optimize public transportation while saving money. We have teamed up with Ayyeka, who provide real-time alerts on water and wastewater infrastructure,  which enhances the reliability of municipal water systems while reducing operating costs. And a cooperative venture with the City of Kelowna and BlueCity is using innovative LiDAR sensor technology to help improve public safety in the city's downtown core.

"We're working hard to build relationships with thought leaders, think tanks and others in our industry to meet this goal," she said. "It's about commitment to the common good. That really is essential to defining where we go as a community."

Rogers role in the smart city ecosystem

How does Rogers fit into the picture? By providing a reliable backbone. Companies and governments depend on the robust Rogers 5G network to ensure their growing suite of devices stay connected, and they make use of Rogers data centres to keep digital assets safe.

"A company like Rogers is here to provide foundational technologies," Tess explained. "We believe each city has unique challenges, and there's different ways technology can support these challenges. We can help, whether it's about getting citizen and government engagement, managing your environmental footprint, having data-driven decision making or looking at economic development opportunities."

Rogers is essentially the technological bridge that connects governments, buildings and citizens with the community-changing ideas being brought to market by companies concentrating on making cities smarter, safer and more efficient.

"We're seeing incredible innovation within our ecosystem," said Tess, "and we're very keen to be part of it."

You can learn more about this connected community ecosystem in the Smart Cities section of the Rogers Business Blog, and discover the services and solutions Rogers and its partners provide on the Rogers Smart Cities portal. Or you can contact a Rogers for Business representative directly to get started on your smart city project.