This year Canada celebrated a milestone birthday – Canada 150. Being based in Canada's capital, I've enjoyed the fanfare that's come along with it. I've also enjoyed the reflective nature a milestone like this brings – not only the opportunity to look back, but also to look ahead at the next 150 years.
Predicting the future of technology is no easy task – if not a fool's errand -- given the pace with which it evolves. However, identifying and seizing the opportunities technology provides is critical to an organization like CIRA. Our board and management team's ability to see and seize these opportunities has resulted in an outstanding 2017 fiscal year.
Technology is powerful and has changed how we live our lives: in small ways like how we access directions to a destination and big ways like how we communicate day-to-day and connect with people, whether across the street or across the ocean. The internet has grown and evolved and the world has changed along with it. New technologies are often global in scope but they impact our lives locally, in our communities and homes.
I will be part of a panel discussing Smart Community strategies at the upcoming Canadians Connected, CIRA's symposium and annual general meeting. This is a perfect example of how technology will impact your life at a community level.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of Smart Communities, I will share a few examples.
As our cities grow, technology can decrease traffic congestion through sensors on street and traffic lights, by providing real-time data on the best routes for citizens to take (or those to avoid) or by helping people find parking quickly in busy downtown streets. Technology will also make cities more accessible for tourists and city dwellers, as well as people with disabilities or parents walking with strollers. For example, apps are being developed that can help people map a walking route that guides them to sidewalks that are accessible for wheelchairs or strollers. Finally, it will be technology that ramps up our economy by attracting innovation, jobs and the talent that comes along with it.
I'm pleased that Canadian cities are embracing Smart Community strategies and I look forward to a robust discussion with my fellow panelists.
CIRA's overarching strategic goal is to build a better online Canada. This keeps us grounded in the present by supporting innovations that have an immediate impact – there are several recipients of our Community Investment Program where this is the case. Building a better online Canada also keeps us forward looking by taking actions, such as investing in Canada's Internet Exchange Point (IXP) network, which will result in a more resilient Canadian internet as more Canadian organizations connect to them.
Without a crystal ball I can't say what the technology trends will be in the next five to 10 years (let alone the next 150), but we can all agree that the internet and all the technologies that grow out of it will continue to change our lives in dynamic and unpredictable ways – in our cities, in our homes and across the globe.
Join us on September 19th for Canadians connected, as we take a look back and a look ahead. You can attend here in Ottawa or via webcast. We want to hear your ideas and opinions on the future. Registration closes on September 17th, so time is running out. I hope to see you there!