Best of 2015: Dreaming of a Data-Smart City

Since its inception in 2010, our Community Soapbox has allowed Kingstonist’s readers to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the site through op-ed posts. We have published numerous submissions exploring topics ranging from cycling in Kingston to the great casino debate, and from reckless development to election signs. We love to hear from our readers and hope to see more submissions in 2016. Anyone can participate. If you’re interested in an opportunity to stand on top of Kingstonist’s soapbox and present your thoughts on a topic that’s close to your heart, feel free to send your submissions to us here.  Today we’re featuring a post from last March written by Chrystal Wilson who makes the case for fostering greater community collaboration and technological innovation in Kingston.
Data-Smart Cities Speaker Series, Kingston, OntarioKingston Fire and Rescue recently announced support for a potentially lifesaving mobile application – PulsePoint. CPR-trained individuals, who have downloaded the app, can be alerted when someone nearby is in cardiac arrest. This simple technology can extend the possibility of saving a life if a trained community member is able to respond faster than emergency crews. Further, this app can help citizens feel more connected to their community; knowing they’ll make their skills available if the need arises.

Initiatives like the PulsePoint app, which change how municipalities deliver services and engage citizens, will be discussed at the Community Foundation’s Data-Smart Cities Speaker Series event on April 1st. Susan Crawford, co-author of The Responsive City: Engaging Communities through Data-Smart Governance, will share case studies from her book, highlighting pioneers who have broken out of current paradigms to collectively address civic problems. Steve Koopman, Media Relations Officer for the Kingston Police Force, and the voice behind KPF’s Social Media accounts, will show off local solutions such as KFP’s Crime Mapping Tool and MyPD mobile app. Becoming a Data-Smart City requires vision, strong leadership and a desire to improve the status quo. Campbell Patterson will discuss successful leaders and organizational changes in other Ontario municipalities which have lead to improved community collaboration and technological advances.

A shortlist of projects highlighting the sort of community collaboration and technological innovation Kingston could potentially aim to implement include:

  • Smart Parking Meters, Charlottetown, PEI: the HotSpot App allows users to pay, set up automatic top-ups (ie after an hour) and sends you a friendly reminder that your time is about to expire.
  • Smart Parking Locator, Norwalk, CT: the Smart Parking App helps you identify available parking spaces in real time. Not only does it provide directions, but allows for payment via your phone.
  • Reporting Tools, Edmonton, AB: Citizen Dashboard provides performance data for select services such as: transit security, transit ridership, number of potholes filled, municipal debt and more.
  • Smart Buses, Ottawa, ON: MyTransit App features live updates, maps, favourite routes and stops. It helps riders find the closest stop on their route, and get off closest to their destination.
  • Citywide WiFi, Stratford, ON: 70km of fibre optic infrastructure providing 100% city-wide high speed Wi-Fi for community services (ie tourism, education, smart utility metres etc…).
  • Integrated Service Delivery, Boulder, CO: a holistic approach to service delivery that has streamlined operations integrating health, housing, and human services.
  • Open Data, Philadelphia, PA: Open Data Philly allows users to search from 266 datasets that range from city council districts to park locations, and from police service areas to dance spaces.
  • Participatory Budgeting, Toronto, ON: Housing’s Tenant Participation System gives housing residents a say on issues that affect their building and community at large.

(vote for up to three options)

Which solutions would you like the City of Kingston to implement next?

  • Citywide Wi-fi (38%, 124 Votes)
  • Smart Buses (20%, 63 Votes)
  • Smart Parking Meters (18%, 57 Votes)
  • Smart Parking Locator (14%, 44 Votes)
  • Open Data (4%, 13 Votes)
  • Reporting Tools (4%, 12 Votes)
  • Integrated Service Delivery (3%, 9 Votes)
  • Something Else (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Participatory Budgeting (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 323

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Do you have other ideas for fostering greater community collaboration and technological innovation in Kingston? Add your ideas and share your examples of what other cities are doing with a comment below.
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Submitted to Kingstonist’s Community Soapbox by Chrystal Wilson.

Photo credit to Eric Flscher.

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