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Smart City Alliance participation approved

City will join with IBM, CISCO and post-secondary institutions in starting alliance

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Saturday, Mar 08, 2014 06:00 am

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St. Albert will participate with local academic institutions and some major corporations in a Smart City Alliance.

The city manager got the nod to execute a memorandum of understanding with the other proposed alliance founders on Monday night.

Those proposed founders are IBM Canada, CISCO Canada, the University of Alberta and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).

“The alliance is virtual in nature,” said city manager Patrick Draper.

The smart city concept aims to use technology to gather analytics useful to the city and make life easier for its residents. St. Albert would be a founding member of an alliance it is hoped other municipalities will join.

Draper said there would be no financial cost to the city for this proposal outside of some staff time.

Forums or other events hosted by the alliance would be self-funded and even the alliance’s website will be developed at no cost using NAIT students.

Fielding questions from council, Draper said the schools and corporations want to participate to get their own innovations out of the lab and try them in a real-world situation.

Coun. Gilles Prefontaine made the motion that the city participate in the alliance, authorizing Draper to sign a memorandum of understanding.

Prefontaine said the initiative shows St. Albert is innovative and “are ready to go out there and really market and show the differentiation of who we are as a city.”

Coun. Tim Osborne said he thought it was great to see the city partnering with academia and business.

“I think there’s a real potential for the community to benefit. I think these kinds of partnerships help cities,” he said.

Coun. Sheena Hughes raised a concern about forming an alliance with businesses.

“You’re really binding yourself into working with these two organizations,” she said.

Draper said they have been careful in the alliance to make sure no partner is obligated to do business with the others.

Mayor Nolan Crouse said his personal opinion was “this is a little bit of a leap” since the smart city master plan and committee haven’t been formed yet, though he said he’s prepared to take the leap.

He also pointed out the city’s brand isn’t mentioned.

“The Smart City stuff is in reality a subset of the brand,” he said.

Council unanimously approved the motion.


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