When the South Island Prosperity Project (SIPP) was shortlisted for the smart cities prize in June, it established Greater Victoria as a global leader in development and sustainability.
To continue that work, SIPP CEO Emilie de Rosenroll will travel to Shanghai this week to share some of those trade secrets at the the 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference, focusing primarily on urban development.
“We’re definitely putting Greater Victoria on the map,” says de Rosenroll, who will tavel with Dallas Gislason, SIPP director of economic development. “I feel like there is a great deal of optimism and momentum in the region.”
That optimism might be credited to the recognition SIPP has brought to the South Island after being shortlisted for the $10-million grant in the Canada Smart Cities Challenge, aiming to improve daily life for residents through innovation, data and connected technology.
But, what does it all mean?
“[AI] is driving more convenience to people,” de Rosenroll explains. “People can talk about flying cars but there are definitely day-to-day lifestyle improvements that can come from this kind of science and technology.”
The journey to the conference – where innovators like Elon Musk will be in attendance – is a follow-up to the trip Mayor Lisa Helps and other community leaders took in 2017, de Rosenroll says.
Challenges like traffic congestion, emergency response, tracking the environmental health and efficiency of infrastructure is increasingly being managed with AI. Scientists, entrepreneurs, business leaders and government officials will meet during the three-day conference to discuss the emergency technology and its trends.
AI has the power to improve our lives, de Rosenroll says, noting there can be a dark side to it. But, she says, it’s happening, “so how do we future-proof our economy?”
The goal for the South Island is to get service providers on board for easier access to what they call “multimodal transportation.” For example, data copuld be used to develop apps to combine bus routes with bike share companies and/or ride hailing services, essentially using these systems more efficiently.
“Data is knowledge and knowledge can be power, but you need to build the systems that manage and monitor it in the right way,” de Rosenroll says. “Our data should be managed like a natural resource.”
Still, the SIPP recognizes this is about making it real for people, she continues. To that end, the economic development agency will soon roll out a public engagement campaign, part of which will include animated short videos to “unpack somewhat abstract ideas.”
For de Rosenroll, this phase of the work, the “second wave of smart cities,” means mid-size cities like those across the CRD are now starting to learn lessons from bigger metropolis’ like Shanghai where these technologies are already in place.
“These are the huge issues of our time that we’re not able to deal with as fast as the technology is coming,” she says.