Over the past decade, Vaughan has gone through an unprecedented transformation. Today, Vaughan is one of Canada’s largest and fastest-growing municipalities. Since 2010, Vaughan has issued $11 billion in building permits, seen the creation of 60,000 new jobs and averaged an annual economic growth rate of more than four percent. To address this ongoing investment, expansion, and growth, we are actively embracing Smart City technologies.
Smart City initiatives are creating enhanced city-building opportunities by improving the way data is collected, understood and utilized. Our goal is to use the information to improve the quality of life for citizens and the delivery of public services. Vaughan is building our Smart City from the ground up. We are identifying citizen’s needs, bringing together the right stakeholders and focusing on people.
I established the Mayor’s Smart City Advisory Task Force to advance a culture of knowledge and continuous improvement. The group includes accomplished representatives from different industries such as environmental sustainability, financial services, and education. Local citizens are also represented.
The task force’s work led to a comprehensive submission to the Canadian government’s Smart Cities Challenge. Vaughan’s proposal called for the use of technology to create a Digital Garden. This concept is about improving social cohesion, enhancing civic participation and expanding service delivery through the creation of community kiosks. They would be one-stop-shops for government services, including online payment options, and allow for digital deputations during Council and committee meetings. These kiosks would be fitted with the Internet of Things sensors to gather data on traffic, parking, air quality and attendance at events. The data would then be used to enhance municipal programs.
The task force’s work further led to budget approval of a new Smart City study to aid in the establishment of Vaughan’s first-ever Smart City business unit. Over the next year, a Smart City business plan will be developed, which includes a strategic roadmap and governance structure that is both accountable and transparent. A dedicated team is identifying opportunities and establishing partnerships with stakeholders both in Canada and around the world.
Global outreach remains the cornerstone of our local efforts to advance Vaughan’s Smart City agenda. Vaughan has reached the highest standards in data collection and has been awarded ISO 37120 Platinum Certification from the World Council on City Data (WCCD). This accreditation champions the use of standardized city data to help create smart, sustainable, resilient, and prosperous cities. Vaughan has been selected by the WCCD to become one of the first cities to pilot a new international standard for Smart Cities data.
I also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with US Ignite to become a member of the organization’s Smart Gigabit Community. Vaughan is the first Canadian municipality to join US Ignite. This non-profit organization promotes international leadership to develop new applications and to foster an environment for local governments and technology partners to work together to improve the lives of citizens through cutting-edge solutions.
US Ignite has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding will help create a network of smart gigabit city platforms and applications across more than 25 communities. Joining the Smart Gigabit Community will allow Vaughan to strengthen professional opportunities, access innovative best practices and improve organizational and technical capabilities.
Vaughan was at the 2019 Smart City Summit and Expo in Taipei and took part in the International Smart Health Forum, which engaged participants in innovative technologies to improve the delivery of health services. Healthcare is at the heart of our Smart City efforts. I proudly chair the Ultimate Campaign, which has raised $174-million of the $250-million goal to build the community’s first hospital – the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital. Ours will be Canada’s first smart hospital, featuring fully integrated smart technology systems and medical devices that can speak directly to one another to maximize patient care.
This past October, I signed an MOU on behalf of the City with York University, Mackenzie Health, and ventureLAB to develop a feasibility study that identifies opportunities to maximize the best use of lands surrounding the future hospital site – known as the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct. The goal of this unique collaboration is to leverage resources to bring healthcare innovation, entrepreneurship, and jobs to this growing community. This site has the potential to be a place that will connect people, spaces and sectors to become an epicenter of healthcare excellence.
Smart City technologies and the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct were the focus of a recent trade mission to Israel that I led. We met with representatives from the Smart Mobility Initiative – a project led by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office – to discuss their approaches to advance policymaking, smart mobility solutions, and innovative business models. We heard from researchers at Tel Aviv University who examined the role of Smart City technology in developing autonomous vehicles to improve urban transportation.
I met with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Deputy Mayor Chen Arieli to discuss that city’s innovative DigiTel Residents Card. This program functions as a personalized web and mobile communication platform that provides residents with individually tailored, location-specific information and services delivered via email, text messages and personal resident accounts.
Our delegation also included representatives from the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct. We met with Dr. Rafael Beyar from the Rambam Medical Center – one of the largest medical centers in Israel. Dr. Beyar discussed his country’s long-held commitment to bring together startups and academic institutions to create medical breakthroughs and enhance frontline healthcare. The presentation was followed by a study tour of the Rambam Medical Center and the Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital. We saw first-hand the cutting-edge technologies that are improving patient care.
Vaughan has a proven track record of using Smart City ideas to help foster a more promising future. We remain committed to working with local, national and international partners to develop innovative solutions that ultimately improve the human condition for all people.