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Presenting Orangeville: Smart city

September 11, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Sandy Brown

Municipalities across the province gathered, virtually, of course, to make their voices heard at the annual AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) Conference in August. While the venue was dramatically different, it gave Town of Orangeville representatives a chance to connect with provincial partners to discuss the challenges facing municipalities from infrastructure, fiscal management, housing, climate change and the environment to economic development and tourism. 

The conference featured over 40 speakers, sessions and workshops, including keynote addresses by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner and various Ministers. These speeches mainly focused on recapping previous announcements and the need for increased support in combating COVID-19. 

The conference gave us a chance to showcase our town as a primary location for a Digital, Research and Innovation Hub. General Manager of Corporate Services Andrea McKinney, Treasurer Nandini Syed, Councillor Joe Andrews and myself presented our plan to the Ministries of Infrastructure, Economic Development and Municipal Affairs & Housing,

Ms. McKinney has been guiding the planning of Smart Orangeville and has been in her position since June 2019. Before joining Orangeville, Ms. McKinney worked with e-health Ontario, Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care, Labour and Transportation along with her previous position as the Chief Digital Officer for the City of Hamilton, where she designed and implemented an award-winning digital strategy. 

The Future of Urban Development

As we become more interconnected and technologically dependent, the rise of smart homes and buildings has changed how many of us approach everyday activities. Running late? Turn your lights on in critical areas, and your home looks warm and inviting and like someone is home. While you’re at it, turn the heat down and set the oven to start just before you get home. 

These same principles can be applied to how we can run the Town. 

Smart innovations can improve the efficiency of the Town operations.   Most of this happens by setting up routines and allowing for controls to be accessed from a mobile app. For example, staff can monitor building temperatures, lights and adjust them based on the weather and time of day. Paired with alarms on the phone, these same staff can receive an immediate notification if there is a malfunction in the system. Adjustments can be made during snow days, ensuring that energy is not wasted, and staff can complete necessary tasks and stay safe. The same monitoring system can be applied to public transportation, fleet management and flood warning systems. 

Smart Orangeville is not just for staff;  during the last budget process Council approved plans to improve the Town website, create a customer service and mobile app and explore other ideas to make it easier for residents to connect with the Town.   Town Staff have also pivoted allowing many staff members to work from home and participate in virtual meetings. 

With a launch date of September 10,  our new Town website will provide an easy to navigate information platform so you can find what you need when you need it. Whether you want to know when your street will be plowed, join a Service Club or report a pothole, this information and more can be easily found as we transition into a “Smart City”.  

A pilot project that will monitor both capacity of an area and social distancing requirements is underway with heat sensors that determine how many people are in the Community Garden. This has allowed the town to safely and quickly re-open the splash pads, skateboard park and other public areas throughout Town. Expansion to Smart Monitoring will include smart water meters that warn you of a costly leak so you can correct the problem before a costly water bill arrives ; timely notification of construction projects will allow you to plan your route.

A Smart City uses technology to ensure the delivery of better services, and a truly Smart City harnesses this knowledge and creates local, national and international partnerships to find new and innovative solutions for our everyday lives. Orangeville is setting the stage to become a digital, research and innovation hub as we move towards exploring more digital and interconnected approaches to life. 

Smart Orangeville: A Digital North Hub

Given our central location – less than an hour from Pearson, access to 400 series highways and proximity to nine Universities and several colleges, we are a mid-point for collaborative businesses and innovative multi-business partnerships. 

Many companies are creating campuses that not only rely on connectivity, both physical ability and electronically, these companies also utilize the natural beauty of the surrounding area and access to a variety of outdoor experiences from hiking to swimming and trail cycling or walking.  

Familiar examples of this include Google, Microsoft, Apple, and closer Canadian companies like Husky and Blackberry also incorporate this whole lifestyle workplace. 

The recent $56M fibre investment from Wightman gets us closer to this possibility than ever and demonstrates their commitment to Smart Orangeville. This significant investment, at no cost to the taxpayer, will build the infrastructure that we need to attract businesses and complete our smart cities journey. 

Starting this fall, Wightman will be installing more than 350,000 metres of fibre optic lines throughout the town, beginning with the industrial section. Within two years, the project will be finished, and every business and resident will have the ability to have high-speed internet.  

The opportunity to attract high tech companies and research facilities to Orangeville is here. Our attractive location, access to high-speed internet and a variety of outdoor and recreation features make our smaller but future-forward community an ideal place for digital innovation.  

This Council is listening – reach out to myself or any member of Council with your ideas!



         

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