St. Mary’s First Nation and City of Fredericton gather for joint briefing on Smart Cities Challenge

Members of Fredericton City Council and St. Mary’s First Nation Band Council held a gathering on January 30, 2019 to receive an update about their joint Smart Cities Challenge proposal.  The participation in the challenge is considered a first step in the potential creation of a Friendship Accord between the two communities.

St. Mary’s First Nation and the City of Fredericton are jointly a finalist in the Government of Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge in the $10-million prize category. The challenge encourages communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology.  The final proposal, which is being assembled using a $250,000 grant from Infrastructure Canada, must be submitted by March 5, 2019.

The proposal is being built through the direct involvement of more than 40 people from 20 community organizations comprising the Smart Cities Task Force.  The focus of the work has been to overcome barriers by connecting residents across generations and cultures to what matters to them most and to create an accessible, welcoming and supportive community for residents.  There are five foundational projects as part of the challenge:

  • Digital Fredericton​​ – Connecting customers to information and services they need, enabling an extraordinary experience of Fredericton through e-government services and the enablement of online collaboration and participation from the public and community stakeholders.
  • Doorable (developed by Appdigenous)​​ – Addressing participation and independence of people with mobility limitations through an app that will wirelessly open doors, map an accessible city, and allow users to communicate about accessibility issues in the community.
  • Road Home Digital Platform – ​​Helping to reduce homelessness and reduce the need for individuals to re-tell their story to multiple service providers through enabling a common data platform for homeless-serving agencies.
  • Non-Profit Data Collaboration​​ – Working with non-profit organizations to enable community-wide engagement in the use of data to more effectively address community problems and better improve service delivery, program design, and influence policy development.
  • Real-time Census / Smart City Dashboard –​​ Developing detailed, up-to-date information and data about and for people in the community and their unique “Big Issue” to connect people from all population segments with the services/support they need.

At the gathering, the councils received a briefing about the ongoing work as part of the proposal development, which has included engaging users and additional key stakeholders, building proof of concepts, refining the outcomes that the pilot projects aim to achieve, identifying data and tools that will be used, and identifying privacy and data security considerations.

 

Quotes:

“Through the Smart Cities Challenge engagement this past winter, we identified ‘Empowerment and Inclusion’ to be our priority focus area, as it impacts our community at-large, and in particular the vulnerable segments of both our populations,” said Mayor O’Brien.

“This is a good opportunity to apply a First Nations cultural lens to our collaboration and mutual problem solving of urban issues” said Chief Polchies.  “There are great opportunities to use technology in new ways to connect elders and youth with our culture and language.”

Event Details:

The meeting was held at the Crowne Plaza Fredericton Hotel, in the St. John meeting room, overlooking the Saint John River, or the Wolastoq, as the Maliseet refer to the body of water that unites the two communities in the heart of the Wolastoqwiyik traditional ancestral territory. 

The gathering officially got underway with a Smudging Ceremony by St. Mary’s First Nation Elder, Alma Brooks, followed by a poem written especially for the event by Jenna Lyn Albert, Fredericton’s Poet Laureate. 

Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien and St. Mary’s First Nation Chief Alan (Chicky) Polchies Jr. delivered a joint welcome in the Spirit of Friendship. 

Adam Bell, Smart Cities Task Force Chair and Assistant Director of Finance, Information & Technology, delivered the Smart Cities Challenge briefing, and Laurie Guthrie, Smart Cities Project Manager, emceed the gathering.