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Municipal IT may have once been perceived (rightly or wrongly) as slow, routine, locked down, and behind the times—but times have changed. Today, municipal IT is undeniably at the forefront of an amazing transformation. Cities are the epicentre of services that directly impact millions of Canadians, and as all things get connected via the internet some really interesting things are happening. Things that put IT at the forefront of service delivery and not relegated to website maintenance and back-room operations.

CIRA is a proud member of the Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA), and we're looking forward to learning about all the latest developments in municipal IT at MISA Ontario in early June. There's so much going on that it's hard to choose our favorites but here's a few of the talks we're most looking forward to.

The City of Vaughan is going to answer the impossible question “what is IOT?” For their city, it represents a digital infrastructure that meets broadband initiatives but also allows them to deliver smart street lighting, parking, improve traffic, and more. I'm looking forward to hearing more, but if these smart street lights can help me find a parking spot, I'm sold. If you're wondering how street lights and parking spaces can work together, the city of San Diego is a great example of the concept.

From IoT we move on to another buzzworthy topic: intelligence. For the City of Brampton, intelligence means information delivered in real time to sophisticated dashboards that help optimize municipal services. Creating these real-time dashboards—reflecting elements like enforcement, recreation, HR, buildings, and more—is not an easy task. With so many diverse stakeholders to support, we can't wait to see their results.

Next up, is a topic close to our hearts at CIRA: privacy. With all the data gathered by IoT devices, networks and intelligent dashboards comes the responsibility to protect the privacy of citizens. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner will be presenting this topic and will provide some key takeaways on the IPC guidelines on de-identification – something that almost sounds sinister if it weren't so useful.

The City of Barrie and our new partners the SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Network will discuss a topic dear to my heart: why IT managers should rule the world. The discussion will focus on the experience of two IT directors who took what they learned enabling services, empowering users, integrating business and infrastructure and used it to take their careers in new directions. If you aren't familiar with the SWIFT network, it is a truly Canadian project that has built out internet infrastructure to serve communities across southwestern Ontario with thousands of points of presence connecting a region with over 3.5 million people.

Finally, we can't possibly miss the presentation from one of our favourite cities: Hamilton. We love all Canadian cities but Hamilton has been a great supporter of CIRA since we launched our DNS services. Our friends from the Hammer will be discussing how to combat spam, malware and ransomware—and hopefully they will share their overall strategic framework for security and IT. We think it can be very helpful for other municipalities.

If you are going to be at MISA Ontario, drop us a line to set-up a meeting in advance or check out our booth where you can take our survey to have a chance to win a pretty sweet prize.