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Igniting smart city innovation with smart collaboration

Desiree Carter, Director of IoT Smart Cities with Rogers, on how partnerships are key to unlocking the potential of smart communities

City view of Halifax

Smart city technology has the potential to transform the way we live. But no single organization can unlock this potential on its own. It will take the combined expertise and insights of innovators and decision makers in a variety of agencies within both the public and private sectors to make it happen.

This was the message that Desiree Carter, Director of IoT Smart Cities at Rogers for Business, delivered to attendees at the Public Sector Innovation Show – Atlantic in Halifax on April 26th.

Dedicated to showcasing emerging technologies that are helping to shape citizens' lives and modern government services, this regional event brings experts within both public agencies and private companies together to discuss a broad range of topics. The focus was on what's come to be called Smart Cities 3.0, a term that includes thinking around everything from sustainability and diversity to economic growth and institutional transformation.

Working together to shape the future of cities

Desiree's talk – Smart Cities: The Changing Face of Digital Collaboration, Working Together to Shape the Future of Cities – addressed the idea that partnership is key to unleashing everything smart cities have to offer. "We must all work together to build the future," she said. "It is not economically feasible for one organization to build it alone."

The good news, she noted, is that the public sector is hungry for smart city solutions. The federal government has earmarked $33 billion in spending on infrastructure improvements, in which IoT and smart city technologies are likely to play a major role. This money will go towards improving the quality, safety, capacity and accessibility of public transportation; fostering green infrastructure by increasing clean energy production and developing clean energy transportation and buildings; and improving community infrastructure by supporting innovative upgrades to museums, sports arenas, libraries, and other cultural assets and services.

“We must all work together to build the future”

- Desiree Carter, Director of IoT Smart Cities at Rogers

However, government agencies can't make smart cities a tangible reality for citizens on their own. They will be partnering with private sector companies to develop and implement the technologies necessary to meet their business and community goals.

"Meeting growing demand for city services requires investment and the introduction of advanced technologies, such as 5G and integrated solutions," said Desiree. "These technologies will act as operational enablers for data to move freely and easily, which will unlock new applications, device ecosystems, and exponential data processing and analytics power, enabling new business models to emerge across the economy."

That's where service providers like Rogers come in. Rogers has made major investments in infrastructure to create a constellation of networks and IoT devices, $3.3 billion to secure the leading number of 3500 MHz licenses in 169 of 172 regions and maintain its position as Canada's largest 5G network.* But even with this, Desiree explained, Rogers understands it is just one piece of a larger puzzle that involves government agencies, universities, community organizations, and innovative solutions architects all working in tandem to create positive outcomes for the citizens who dwell in the smart cities we're creating.

Imagining possibilities for the smart city of tomorrow

When these collaborations occur, said Desiree, that's when the real magic happens and life-improving solutions and technologies begin to become reality.

"Imagine firefighters in a smoke-filled home with little to no visibility," she suggested. "With 5G augmented reality displays on their helmet visors they can see where their colleagues are, view the building floorplan for exits, and check pictures and descriptions of the people they're working to rescue."

We're also seeing exciting practical innovations in building management. "Imagine you're a building operator able to monitor indoor air quality, view the maintenance needs of public washrooms, and identify and shut off water leaks as soon as they're detected by sensors, minimizing damage and inconvenience – all remotely from your phone."

She also talked about how smart city technologies, built on dependable networks and reliable data centres, can even help an average citizen on their way to work. By connecting their car with the city grid, it is possible to identify new obstacles like a broken water main as it happens and automatically reroute around them. Benefits for city dwellers can be as simple as connecting with smart parking lots ahead of time to see if they have open spaces, or ordering on-demand transit at a nearby bus stop with a phone.

Realizing smart city goals through partnerships and collaboration

But none of this happens in a silo. These solutions come to life through partnerships and collaboration—the vital connective tissue that ensures cities can deploy IoT solutions, tools and platforms that are optimally designed to meet their business, economic and community objectives.

"No matter what a smart city prioritizes, it needs an ecosystem to support it," said Desiree. "That includes companies like Rogers to provide the technology and data centres to keep digital assets safe. And that's why we need to work together."

Visit the Rogers Smart Cities portal to learn more about how Rogers connects with collaborators and can help you and your community reach your smart city goals.

*Largest based on total square kilometers of Rogers 5G coverage compared to published coverage of other national networks.