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Next generation technology ahead for Smart City

City to begin consultations for Smart City 4.0 plan in 2020 that will incorporate "newly emergent technologies"
St. Albert Place
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

St. Albert will begin work on the next major revision to its Smart City master plan in 2020, which will put emphasis on “next-generation” technology.

During a budget meeting in November, St. Albert chief administrative officer Kevin Scoble compared the upcoming revision to upgrading your phone.

“Smart City is really expanding the depth and breadth of Smart City, so ... it’s almost like an iPhone upgrade to be quite honest with you,” Scoble said at the Nov. 7 meeting. “We’re three or four years into our Smart City plan and it’s time to upgrade to the next version of that.”

The new plan will be dubbed Smart City 4.0 and will look at emerging technologies that could potentially give St. Albert an advantage as an early adopter or “incremental or intermediate steps,” St. Albert communications adviser Marci Ng stated in an email. The city did not grant an interview for this story.

City council approved spending $50,000 in 2020 for conducting public engagement on the revision, which could involve pop-up engagement events, surveys and a new task force, administration said at the Nov. 7 meeting.

“New technologies are emerging faster than applications for them can be developed. Practical uses for technologies like block chain, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and robotics will ultimately make civic services cheaper and more effective,” Ng stated

She added St. Albert has already implemented many technologies that were “leading edge” when first implemented, including fibre optic networking, adaptive traffic signals and electric buses.

“Smart City 4.0 will extend the City’s technological advantage by incorporating newly emergent technologies,” Ng stated.

In April, St. Albert was internationally recognized by German company Roland Berger for its smart city initiatives and was named third of 153 cities, only behind Vienna and London, England.

Work on drafting a revised plan will be conducted while strategies identified in Smart City 2.0 continue to be implemented in 2020. Update 2.0 places emphasis on efficient delivery of municipal services and economic development.

Some examples of Smart City initiatives include Smart Fare on St. Albert Transit, investigating alternative waste disposal options (city council approved a waste-to-energy pilot last month) and an intelligent transportation system (ITS).

Part of ITS includes adaptive signals, which St. Albert is rolling out along St. Albert Trail and Boudreau Road, transportation manager Dean Schick told council during a Nov. 14 budget meeting. Communications adviser Juliann Cashen confirmed in an email testing of adaptive signals is happening along both corridors. Neither is fully operational yet as the settings are in an evaluation period, but they are set to be fully functioning in January.

However, St. Albert’s ITS remained on St. Albert’s unfunded 2020 capital plan throughout budget deliberations in November.

Schick said 2020 would provide a good opportunity to evaluate adaptive signal operations before looking to invest any further in the technology.

St. Albert’s first Smart City master plan was approved in 2016, and a new version was drawn up after the 2017 municipal election to better align with council’s strategic priorities.

Hannah Lawson

About the Author: Hannah Lawson

Hannah Lawson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2019 after working as editor of the Athabasca Advocate. She writes about city hall.
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