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January 20, 2020

Rounded up: The Future Fix Podcast Series

Public transit, governance, broadband access, food security and sensors

The Future Fix Podcast series is a collaboration between Evergreen and Spacing for the Community Solutions Network. Since the fall of 2019, we have released seven episodes, five in English and two in French, that explore how data and tech are transforming communities across Canada.

Below, we share how each episode delves into an idea or innovation that seeks to address a community challenge – from food security to broadband access to public transportation in the suburbs. Take a listen to the podcasts, and stay tuned for more of these resources on the Community Solutions Portal.

This series is also produced in French. You can listen to Face au Futur here.

1. How Innisfil is using Uber as public transit

Love it or hate it, app-based ride-hailing programs are making their way into communities across the country. In our first episode, we explore the unique relationship between the town of Innisfil, Ontario, and the controversial ride-hailing company Uber.

Its hard to imagine a city or a town without transit, but that was really Innisfil for the longest time. […] We were really struggling with what to do because traditional transit requires a certain density level, to make it work financially, so ultimately we decided that we needed another approach.” Jason Reynar, the town’s chief administrative officer, explains this relationship, and how it has changed transit choices for the people there.

Listen to the episode here.

2. Who Governs the Smart City

What is the role of local government in smart city projects? Joined by Pamela Robinson, director of Ryerson's School of Urban and Regional Planning, and Future Cities Canada Fellow, we discuss how local government and leadership can sometimes be left behind with the new technology and bold, transformative ‘smart city’ projects that companies promise.

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.

Listen to the episode here.

3. Fast internet for rural communities

Although access to reliable internet has become an essential service, necessary for local businesses, education, and even healthcare, there is 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.

We also spoke with Gary Wilson, Indigenous engagement and outreach lead for Connected Communities B.C. about consulting with Coastal First Nations communities in British Columbia to find modern broadband solutions that compliment their way of life.

Listen to the episode here.

4. Food Security and Circular Economies

How can a country waste approximately 2.2 million tones of food every year while some of its residents lack food security? That is the reality that we face in Canada – some residents live without reliable access to food every day, but despite that, much of the food that is produced and purchased goes to waste, every single year.

In this episode, 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.

Listen to the episode here.

5. The secret life of sensors

In this episode, we dive into a major component of “smart” cities; 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 how people move about the public realm.

Listen to the episode here.