Mississauga Looks To Citizens And Industry As It Bridges Digital Divide

Shawn Slack

The Southern Ontario city of Mississauga is already established as an early frontrunner in the smart city movement, with free high-speed WiFi blanketing the city, a 750-sensor smart traffic light network, and 50,000 LED streetlights. But there is massive opportunity beyond this.

As we turn our attention to bridging the digital divide, consultations with the public and agency and industry partners have helped us identify key areas in which we could use technology to solve problems as part of the pan-Canadian Smart Cities Challenge.

Our plan involves supporting at-risk citizens, youth, new immigrants, and others in the local community by building a digital ecosystem that provides access to digital services and support. Here’s how it will look:

  • The kit – Made up of items such as laptops, kits will be available throughout the city and integrated into programs and services already offered at libraries and other agencies.
  • The connection – Mini WiFi-enabled digital hubs located throughout the city will provide easy and equitable access to services for people with or without a device through intelligent digital signs.
  • The hub – Locations designed for remote working and learning will feature workspaces and digital amenities to enable residents to work and learn within their own community.
  • The community – The needs of the local community will drive the development of each kit, connection, and hub.
  • The ride – Use of public and active transportation will be promoted as the ideal way to move throughout the community. MiWay will be the ride connecting to the hubs and the connections with traffic signal priority and Wi-Fi.
  • The technology – Leading-edge technologies including intelligent digital signage, artificial intelligence, voice-first services, augmented reality, open data, and mobility.

On the surface, it might look like we are simply introducing a bunch of technology to try to solve the challenges of economic and social divides in our city. But for this to work, technology must be considered part of the means to a solution rather than the solution itself.

Digital technologies can help us achieve goals such as bringing communities back together and improving opportunity and quality of life for everyone. We want to stitch our city services together into one digital experience that benefits all citizens and provides better support to the community so it can thrive.

The city of the near-future will look very different to today. IDC predicts 72% of the workforce will be mobile by 2020. This is a major shift, and our digital ecosystem is a head start in making Mississauga a desirable place to be in this new world.

Our public workforce of 7,000 is already leading by example on this front. We have introduced software such as SAP Concur and SAP SuccessFactors, allowing us to go paperless, and many public servants are working remotely from homes, libraries, and coffee shops around the city.

We want to give as many Mississaugans as possible the opportunities to succeed in the digital economy while continuing to include technology in our wider strategy to make the city a better and more enjoyable place to live, work, and play.

I will be talking alongside some of the world’s leading public sector and technology innovators at the SAP Smart Cities Forum on April 23.


Shawn Slack

About Shawn Slack

Shawn Slack is the Director of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer for the City of Mississauga.