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Municipal public Wi-Fi is playing a growing role in enabling people to stay connected and providing a launch pad for high tech economic development.  Local municipalities like Stratford, Perth and Napanee are picking up on a strong global trend toward increased access to free public WiFi provided by municipalities, enabling people and businesses to be connected everywhere.

 

There is also an emergence of a growing number of “Smart City” technologies that piggy-back off WiFi infrastructure to better manage the municipality’s operations and assets, including IT functions, transportation systems, power plants, law enforcement, community services, schools and libraries. The internet of things (IoT) is an important and growing part of this initiative.

 

In southern Ontario, Stratford was one of the first to provide free WiFi in their downtown and to integrate it into Smart City initiatives. Not only do residents appreciate the always connected convenience, local businesses benefit from the added drawing power. And the WiFi coverage enabled the town to implement a smart parking locator system. Now residents can pull over to check for available parking spots from their smart phone in real time.

 

Beyond just parking, Stratford has developed a high tech infrastructure across the city. Ysni Semsedini, the CEO of Festival Hydro in Stratford told CBC news “..today, it has roads that talk to street lights, signals that talk to cars and an industrially reliable wireless network that allows all those systems to feed data back to the tech companies operating there.” And the tech industry has taken notice. Stratford’s investment is paying off as their Smart City is attracting high tech industry and innovation partnerships to the community as well as offering a launch pad for locally grown tech entrepreneurs too.

 

Now is the Time to Install WiFi in Downtown Oakville

The most cost effective time for Oakville to install the infrastructure to support a WiFi zone is during the Downtown streetscape renovations scheduled to start in the next few months. As Mayor, I will use my position on Council to gain the support needed to have the technology installed to offer free WiFi in our downtown as part of the streetscape revitalization initiative.

 

Find available parking spots on your smart phone anytime.

Parking has been a source of pain in Downtown Oakville for twenty years. With a WiFi-enabled downtown, I will champion smart parking technology (called “smart parking pucks”) to be installed so people can pull-over and find the closest available parking spot through an app on their smart phones. Not only is this a great convenience for people visiting Downtown, eliminating the frustration and barrier of finding parking, but it will also reduce the congestion of vehicles circling in search of parking.

 

Let Tech Experts Tell Us How to Connect Kerr Street and Bronte Villages

I believe becoming a leader in SmartCity technologies that improve residents’ quality of life and attract high tech jobs to our community should be a top priority for Oakville.  However,Governments are typically slow to embrace the many benefits of technology that can save our Town money, improve the way we work and enhance our quality of life. Oakville is fortunate to be home to many of Canada’s smartest technology experts and companies – our Town government can benefit in many ways from their advice and thinking. As Mayor, I will harness our local talent and entrepreneurs to form a Technology Advisory Committee to help Oakville jump into the forefront of the adoption of smart technology that will benefit our community. Working with Town staff, one of the first things our Tech Advisory Committee will advise us on is how to most effectively and efficiently implement WiFi enabling technology in Bronte and Kerr Street Villages as well as other Town centres.

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