Bridge over troubled water: Yellowknife loses Smart Cities Challenge

A graphic from the city's Smart Cities presentation to council in March.
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The City of Yellowknife’s bid to win a $5 million Smart Cities Challenge has officially come to an end without the desired result. The Challenge empowers communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology. The city lost out to the winner of the contest, Bridgewater which resides in Nova Scotia.

The city was a finalist in a category with 4 others with the opportunity to win $5 million. The winners were announced at a ceremony in Ottawa on Tuesday where larger cities were also competing for prizes of $10 million and $50 million.

Mayor Rebecca Alty told Moose FM earlier this week that the City’s project involved light posts and turning them into beacons of sustainability.

“Some of the things that we’re looking to do with the light posts is to dim them when there are no vehicles or pedestrians in the area so that the sky will be darker and we will get to better see the Aurora.”

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Alty added that there’s some smart technology coming out where the City could have wifi coming from those street lights.

“We could have wifi as well as a QR Code that tourists could snap and find out more information about the area. Smart technology that can measure the snow’s depth on the street at the time and ping it back to City Hall saying this one street has a lot of snow and it needs to be plowed.”

She noted that the smart technology was not necessarily something that the City was gonna do all of at once but more like adding them over time just like you would add apps to your phone.

The winning team of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia will use the $5 million to install sophisticated energy monitoring and communications equipment in over 1,000 low-income homes, develop a self-funding energy retrofit financing program, improve its transportation systems, and increase local cleantech sector training and literacy.

“Our community will lift its residents out of energy poverty, starting by reducing the energy poverty rate by 20% by 2025,” their challenge statement read.

The winners of the three categories were chosen by a 13-person panel.

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