With less than a month to go before the submission deadline, the Smart Cities working group is getting ready to put together Penticton’s entry in the $10-million Infrastructure Canada challenge.
“There is no reason why we can’t win this,” said Meg Dimma, one of the volunteers in the core working group.
Dimma says working on the project has been exciting and overwhelming at times as they continue to engage with a variety of groups in Penticton, along with expert stakeholders who have specialized knowledge needed to help develop the Penticton Smart Cities theme of Healthy Penticton.
“We are also in the phase of defining our challenge statement and beginning the proposal writing,” said Dimma, adding there has been great support for the Smart Cities Challenge entry.
“There has been an amazing amount of ideas coming in. Our survey is continuing to see a lot of activity, which is great because it is an open-ended survey. A lot of people are putting a lot of time and a lot of thought into their answers.”
Dimma said the Smart Cities group is now getting together with some of those idea generators for a meet up to discuss some of their ideas further. An idea-capturing session was held Thursday at the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.
“We want to get people that are really interested in the project and who are coming up with those ideas to better explain what they would like to see out of those $10-million,” said Dimma, adding there are criteria that Smart Cities proposals need to adhere to: it has to be through connected data and technology; engage with and connect a large majority of the residents; increase efficiency, reduce costs and enhance the quality of life.
“It’s a matter of boiling down which concepts are the most feasible,” said Dimma.
The deadline for the challenge statement is April 24. Though there will be a lot of supporting documentation, the challenge statement is only 50 words, and the description of the project ideas won’t go into great detail yet.
“We want to keep our challenge statement somewhat broad and bold,” said Dimma. “The proposal is heavily weighted on community engagement. Did we pull from the majority of residents and a wide demographic? Did we engage with the public? Is the city on board?
“Once we have been selected as a semi-finalist, then we will have some funds and time to boil down the individual projects.”
If Penticton is selected for the shortlist, the community will receive $250,000 to further research the proposals and prepare a submission for the final round leading to the up to $10-million prize.
“If we can raise one determinant of health in our community, I believe that other determinants will then follow the lead, like a waterfall effect,” said Dimma. “If that means getting our citizens more active, that will increase their mental health, that will increase their pride in the city and therefore things like safety will improve and so forth.”
Dimma said the challenge has shown her the character of Penticton and created a lot of positive conversations around this community.
“The challenge has already accomplished what it set out to do, which was to create a more engaged community,” said Dimma. “Just having been a part of this, I have been able to see that Penticton is full of people who are smart, skilled, talented and have great ideas.”
More information about Penticton’s Smart Cities Challenge and the survey is available online at smartcitieschallengepenticton.com.