December 22, 2021
For your listening and learning pleasure: The Future Fix podcast
Spacing and Evergreen
Discover all the episodes in the archive, from the most recent to the first episode in 2019
The Future Fix is a collaboration between Evergreen and Spacing for the Community Solutions Network. The series explores how data and tech are transforming communities across Canada. Thirteen episodes were produced in English and four episodes were produced in French (Face au Futur).
Below, we share how each episode delves into an idea or innovation that seeks to address a community challenge – from Smart Farms to COVID-19 apps to “the secret life” of sensors.
Read on and tune in!
Sept 3, 2021
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen people use technology and data in creative ways to help combat COVID-19. Everyday people found ways to connect people to information about the disease, and even vaccinations.
In this episode, we begin by talking to Angelina Zhu and Deanna Hembruff, two volunteers for Vaccine Hunters Canada, about how they became involved in a national movement to help people find vaccine appointments. Then, Dr. Tarun Katapally, professor at the University of Regina’s Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, talks about how he and a team were able to work with Indigenous people in Saskatchewan to provide an app-based platform to curb the spread in smaller communities. It’s called CO-Away.
August 3, 2021
Reliable access to the internet is an essential service in any community. But there are barriers to bridging the “digital divide,” especially in northern and Indigenous communities. Beyond the technical challenges, every community must choose what sort of broadband service model will serve people the best.
March 3, 2021
Food security is a challenge everywhere, but especially for northern communities. The climate can make growing food difficult, and the distance and expense to ship food can mean long waits and exorbitant prices.
Naurvik, a farm and research station, was built by the Arctic Research Foundation, in consultation with local elders The station was built out of two shipping containers in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. We speak to Betty Kogvik, one of the local guardians of the farm, and Arctic Research Foundation CEO Adrian Schimnowski, who hopes the idea can help different communities, and help us learn about growing in extreme environments.
The neighbouring communities of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, the town of The Pas, and the municipality of Kelsey Manitoba joined together to establish an LED Smart Farm to provide the people of that area with fresh produce they might not otherwise have access to. Glen Ross, executive director of Opaskwayak Cree Nation Health Authority, explains further.
November 18, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an existential threat to local businesses all over the country. In an effort to help these shops keep their doors open, governments, organizations, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) have had to get creative. In this episode, Canadian Urban Institute Senior Planner Ariana Holt talks about the Bring Back Main Street campaign.
We go to Belleville, Ontario, where the Digital Main Street initiative helped that town create the Downtown District Marketplace. Belleville Downtown Improvement Area Executive Director Marijo Cuerrier explains: “The marketplace is targeting mainly restaurants and retailers they are on a digital platform that is e-commerce enabled, and it allows people to shop in the downtown district at several different places at once and only have one cart.”
And Larry Burke, designer and board member of the Quinpool Road District Association in Halifax tells us all about Shop Quinpool Online virtual shopping mall. “The success of Quinpool as a destination is that people do like to come down the street, and a lot of our marketing, pre-COVID, was based on doing events. That’s part of what made Quinpool what it is. And so, obviously, this throws a big monkey wrench into that. But these are still retailers, they still have to sell product.”
Aug 21, 2020
We hear a lot about Open Data these days. Researchers demand it, governments continue to promise more of it, and everyday people use it to innovate and advocate for their communities. But what are we really talking about when we say “Open Data” and can it be harnessed to address urgent community needs like housing, public health, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?
Tracey Lauriault, associate professor at Carleton University, specializes in critical media and big data. She’s been studying the theoretical framework around data and says Open Data without critical data thinking does not go deep enough.
In Winnipeg, a number of community-based organizations partnered to produce “Peg” a simple, searchable resource that allows people to cross reference different community health indicators like basic needs, the natural environment, and education. Jodene Baker is the director of impact innovation and evaluation at United Way Winnipeg.
July 22, 2020
We wanted to begin with a challenge that faces many cities, large and small, that has been given a higher sense of urgency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That challenge is the need for safe streets and active transportation routes for pedestrians and cyclists. To create these spaces, you need to be able to communicate the problem, and pinpoint where an intervention can provide the most benefit. That’s where data comes in.
Walk Toronto co-founder Sean Marshall tells us how the advocacy group used things like Google Maps to crowd-source sidewalks too narrow to social distance, and help influence policy.
Shabnem Afzal, road safety manager for Surrey, British Columbia, overseas that city’s Vision Zero program – a global effort to reduce the amount of road injury and death to zero. She explains how data was used to generate support for a safe streets program and to identify problem areas.
And Halifax City Councillor Waye Mason tells us about that city’s mobility response, and an interactive map that lets citizens identify spots where safe street interventions for walk, cycling, and social distancing are needed.
March 9, 2020
In this series, we’ve talked a lot about what digital technology can do for communities. Now, we find out how that same technology is being used to create communities.
We speak to Dan Alfano, manager of digital initiatives at the Edmonton Public Library, about adapting the libraries role as a community hub to teach new skills and provide opportunities to thrive in the digital age.
And, Pinngauq Association Director Ryan Oliver tells us how connecting communities across Nunavut to digital skills, and a chance for everyone to share their stories, is actually a mental health service.
February 24, 2020
For some people, the key to forecasting, mitigating, and potentially even preventing disaster lies in good data. In this episode, Civic Tech Fredericton’s Bernie Connors tells us how the River Watch app helps people in New Brunswick track annual flooding. We also hear from Josh Bowen, manager of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Centre for Applied Disaster and Emergency Management in Edmonton, about how we live and die by data.
January 15, 2020
In this episode, we dive into a major component of “smart” cities is finding new ways to harvest data, and integrate it into ongoing urban planning.
Obviously, embedding sensors throughout the public realm creates multiple privacy concerns. This is something David Fewer, director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa, advises municipalities on, regularly.
But, data is power, and Newmarket Ontario’s Director of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives Susan Chase explains how Soofa benches throughout that town have helped government, businesses, and local events make the most of information on how people move about the public realm.
December 5, 2019
In this episode, we face the perplexing coexistence of a lack of food security and abundance of food waste in Canada. Many Canadians living without reliable access to food in their day to day lives, but despite that, much of the food we do have – 2.2 million tonnes of it – goes to waste every year. Evidently, we need to change the way we produce food, and change the linear economy that leads to so much waste, and leaves many people without this basic necessity for life.
Barbara Swartzenruber, executive director of Guelph’s Smart Cities Office, provides us with insight into “Our Food Future,” a Smart City Challenge-winning proposal to create a circular food economy, reduce waste, and connect local people and businesses with the ingredients they need. Thomas Rohner in Iqaluit speaks with Steven Lonsdale of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association who explains how new technology has been integrated into traditional Inuk hunting practices, and helped the people there navigate the changing landscape caused by climate change.
November 15, 2019
In this episode, we uncover how, although access to reliable internet has become an essential service, necessary for local businesses, education, and even healthcare, there’s a connectivity gap which has left over half of rural communities without this level of service. Mayor Larry Oakden paints us a picture of Hamiota, Manitoba, and the co-operative solution the surrounding municipalities there came up with to bring everyone online. And Gary Wilson, Indigenous engagement and outreach lead for Connected Communities B.C. talks about consulting with Coastal First Nations communities in British Columbia to find modern broadband solutions that compliment their way of life.
October 23, 2019
In this episode, we explore the role of local government has to play in smart city projects with Pamela Robinson, director of Ryerson’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, and Future Cities Canada Fellow. We also discuss the price that is paid when marginalized communities don’t have access to the data being collected about them, or any say in how it’s gathered with Jonathan Dewar, executive director of the First Nations Information Governance Centre.
September 26, 2019
In our first episode, we explore the unique relationship between the town of Innisfil, Ontario, and the controversial ride-hailing company Uber. Jason Reynar, the town’s chief administrative officer, explains this relationship, and how it has changed transit choices for the people there.
The Future Fix is a partnership between Spacing and Evergreen for the Community Solutions Network: a program of Future Cities Canada. As the program lead, Evergreen is working with Open North and partners to help communities of all sizes across Canada navigate the smart cities landscape. The Community Solutions Network is supported with funding provided by Infrastructure Canada.