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Smart Planning Our Future Cities: Supporting Healthy, Equitable and Sustainable Communities in the Digital Age

Supporting healthy, equitable and sustainable communities in the digital age.

As defined by the LSNetwork, the term smart city is generally used to refer to improving overall quality of life for people at home, work and play through the use of data and digital technology integrated throughout the built environment. The technology, far from only being an end, is used to provide opportunities for economic development and to enhance urban services, resource conservation, and cost effectiveness. Key focus areas include but are not limited to: fostering innovation in industries and neighbourhood communities; creating and attracting talent; advancing urban infrastructure, transportation and utility performance; and improving community services (LightSavers, 2017). 

The rapid rise of urbanization has, in recent years, coincided with a massive growth in connected devices (or things that talk to the internet). By 2020, it is predicted that 50 billion connected devices will exist. With this steady expansion of the Internet of Things, along with the kickoff of Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge, there is significant opportunity for municipalities to empower their communities through technology and connectivity. To be competitive and prepared to respond to emerging urban challenges and opportunities, cities should be investing in their capacity to employ this connectivity to support smarter, healthier, and more equitable and sustainable communities.

The cities are redefined and transformed by data and technology. This digital revolution, once led by industries, is now being harnessed by governments to empower citizens. Smart City Master Plans are enabling municipalities to support community goals by leveraging their networks as platforms for smart city strategies. The scale of mid-sized cities uniquely positions them to lead this movement and foster innovation by knowledge sharing between communities. 

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