The Making of an E-topia
Living in Waterloo, Ontario means seeing a Mennonite driving a horse and buggy is an everyday occurrence. In fact, you’ll see stables at the end of parking lots all over the city that accommodate our neighboring farmers.
It’s in the shadows of these farms that Waterloo grew into a technology hub.
Dubbed Quantum Valley, Waterloo houses two world-renowned universities, a company that invented the smartphone, and two prestigious think-tanks that attract the best minds in the world – to highlight just a few things that have put us on the map. Technological advances that have changed the world emerged from this small town surrounded by corn fields, and now business is booming.
The people who live and work in Waterloo Region are tech savvy and expect Waterloo’s technical infrastructure to advance with the times.
And it is. Waterloo is well on its way to becoming an “e-topia.”
E-topias are cities that work smarter, not harder. They use technology to keep operations running efficiently, to maintain safety, and to ensure their citizens have timely access to services. These digital cities proactively use technology to raise the standard of living while being fiscally responsible.
Receiving the 2013 IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant, Waterloo is one of two Canadian cities that were awarded funding to help them on the road to e-topia.
We spoke recently with Max Min, Director of the Information Management and Technology Services department for the City of Waterloo. He explained that “the realities of municipal budgets means that we need to make smart choices. We not only need affordable solutions that work, we also need suppliers that can help us make the most of our investment.”
Choosing the Right Solution
How do you build an e-topia? Waterloo’s population is growing fast, and consequently, the demands on infrastructure and services are growing with it. So, like other municipal governments, Waterloo took a long look at how it could update its mobile technology to provide the immediate and user-friendly services citizens were increasingly demanding.
The City of Waterloo needed a mobile solution that would scale easily, be cost-effective and reliable. They also needed tools that would help connect people and machines to each other quickly and efficiently. Productivity and communication apps were key, but so was compliance with government regulations. Security needed to be at the core of the solution. In the end, they went with a trusted solution that’s been built from the ground up to support the demands of digital cities.
BlackBerry in Action
Here’s one example of how BlackBerry is supporting the City of Waterloo as it helps build an e-topia.
Soon after they upgraded to BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 (BES10), the city’s developers worked with BlackBerry’s Enterprise Solutions Team and, eSolutionsGroup Limited to create a unique app called Pingstreet. The app is for city officials, employees, and the community. It’s a way for everyone to get information quickly and an opportunity to create real-time dialogue between the government and Waterloo’s citizens. People can report a problem to the City of Waterloo and share it with others easily through social media. In fact, it’s been so successful that over a dozen municipalities have adopted the app.
Collaboration apps like these and BBM are trustworthy, helping the City of Waterloo coordinate efficiently to improve their emergency services. The value of these tools was apparent during a recent ice storm that sent the city into emergency mode. By using BBM, the City of Waterloo was able to communicate and share information quickly during this critical time, which ultimately helped the city save on operating costs during the emergency.
Governments at every level are adopting BlackBerry as their preferred mobile platform. Read the full case study to find out more about how BlackBerry is helping shape Waterloo.