There will be no designated smart city funding for 2018 after councillors voted to cancel development of a consolidated mobile application for the city.
Although the mobile application was the focus of debate during a Nov. 28 budget meeting, the cancellation of the project may affect other smart city initiatives, such as an open data pilot, sensor testing and development of an application for the federal Smart Cities Challenge, which bears with it the possibility of $10 million in funding.
A report provided to council by smart city manager Travis Peter outlined two parts to the $96,000 project: a consolidated mobile application that would gather the city’s current six or seven applications into one; and core program funding for smart city, designed to support low-cost and low-risk technology pilots, marketing and outreach.
The project called for $96,000 in 2018, which would include initial development of the application, and $62,000 for each subsequent year.
Councillors voted the funding down with Mayor Cathy Heron casting the lone vote in favour.
Regarding the mobile application, Coun. Natalie Joly said she feels the city’s communication is done “piecemeal” and lacks an overarching vision.
“My impression is … without the big-picture plan in place, all these little projects are going to keep running into road blocks where it doesn’t really work in the way we want it to,” she said.
“This might be something that’s really helpful for our residents but just without that sense of a big plan I’m not comfortable supporting this project at this time.”
Coun. Sheena Hughes said she wanted to see what a consolidated application would deliver before signing off on its creation.
“The idea of trying to merge seven very different apps that will be configured for individuals, and put them into one app, just doesn’t make any sense to me,” she said.
But Heron said St. Albert’s younger demographic often balks at downloading that many applications for their phones.
“If you could get everything you needed from your city in one spot, that’s the ultimate goal of our city app,” she said.