After a year of multiple shutdowns and businesses reeling from COVID’s rath, many in the private sector had no choice but to pivot their business plans by leveraging digitization to drive profits.
Similarly, the public sector should be keeping pace by making digital technology a priority. Digital transformation could have immense value and cost-cutting opportunities in the delivery of services as well as municipal planning and development that intertwine with the private sector.
According to the Provincial government’s More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) is a key economic driver of both the province and the nation, with more than 85 percent of the province’s population growth expected in this region by 2051. In fact, we are anticipating that by 2051 this region will grow to nearly 15 million people and accommodate seven million jobs. This will undoubtedly place additional pressures on the Town’s services, planning and infrastructure, and only underscores the importance of the Chamber’s call to action for the Town to become more digitized.
The Chamber is encouraged by the recently announced Town plan for a Digital Oakville 2021. We will continue to encourage the Town to establish an Advisory Council to ensure that government collaborates with business leaders, experts and academia to achieve a digitally connected community. As well, we will urge the Town to develop measurements for its plan and use the required analytics to sort the data and determine the next steps to achieve success.
A digitally enabled Town means that you will be able to apply and pay for almost any Town permit and licence online, including booking inspections and that you can comment on important civic topics from your mobile device. New services, platforms and a “connected” infrastructure means reduced congestion and improved safety on our roads. Furthermore, an efficiently run municipality results in increased financial savings. In well-planned digital municipalities, the efforts become a profit centre within a year or two.
The collection of data provides municipalities with the opportunity with a predictive capability, seeing the problem before it happens. For example, the City of Vancouver’s in-truck mobile devices in their sanitation fleet services has enabled the City to better plan routes, coordinate pickups and have seen a 30 percent return on investment from shift optimizations.
Smart city infrastructure and an interconnected urban environment are essential for our growing community and economic development. Similarly, smart planning will ensure that we as a municipality can attract talent and investment.
All levels of government need to work together and with the business community. This is one conversation that needs to be had in collaboration with the ecosystem of Oakville’s leaders and with academia that have the ability and interest in exploring pilots and simulations.
– Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy