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Bell partnership 'puts Orillia on the map,' mayor says

Orillia is a 'leader in the adoption of innovative technology and is well positioned to take the lead as one of Canada's Smart Cities,' Bell official says
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Coun. Pat Hehn, Gary Semplonius, SVP-Business Sales and Marketing, Bell Canada, Coun. Ralph Cipolla, Mayor Steve Clarke, Coun. Mason Ainsworth, Coun. Jeff Clark and Tal Schierau, Director Direct Sales IoT, Bell Canada, stand behind drawings of the new digital kiosks that are a part of the Smart City initiative between the City of Orillia and Bell announced Monday night. Contributed photo

NEWS RELEASE
CITY OF ORILLIA
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The City of Orillia is teaming up with Bell on an innovative Internet of Things (IOT) initiative that will solidify Orillia’s commitment as a developing Smart City. Orillia will be highlighted as a model community in the province and across Canada for future technology initiatives.

City Council unanimously ratified the approval of the pilot project agreement with Bell Smart Solutions at its meeting Monday night.

The research partnership agreement comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that Bell will invest significantly in Orillia over the next few years to provide fibre connectivity to residences and businesses in Orillia.

“This partnership with Bell enables us to explore cutting-edge technology and puts Orillia on the map as being one of the most innovative cities in Canada,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “Economic development has been a key priority of this Council. Taking steps to develop Orillia as a Smarter City will certainly help to promote new growth opportunities.”

The pilot project will leverage Bell’s Smart City platform to collect, organize and centralize data from wireless IOT applications to help the City make better informed decisions on matters like municipal operations and infrastructure.

Elements of the pilot project include:

  • A centralized and comprehensive view of connected city services enabling improved collaboration between City departments, improved operating efficiencies and enhanced services for city residents and visitors.
  • A public Wi-Fi network in the Downtown Business Improvement Area and along the city’s waterfront in Couchiching Beach Park.
  • Two multi-function digital kiosks that will provide touchscreen directional wayfinding and promote local businesses and events to residents and visitors to the city.
  • A fleet management application to provide real-time data collection and analysis of the City’s snowplow operations and the development of a web application for residents to monitor plowing progress.
  • A monitoring application to detect the volume of ground water infiltration into the City’s sanitary sewer system. This will help to reduce unnecessary treatment of ground water at the City’s wastewater treatment plant by pinpointing cost effective repairs to sanitary pipes.

The kiosk and Wi-Fi solutions will be launched this summer, with the other solutions being implemented this fall and next spring.

The partnership also represents an opportunity for the City to investigate a number of other Bell IOT applications in a cost-effective manner in the areas of application development, data collection and data analysis. This pilot project will provide valuable analysis that will underpin future Smart City initiatives.

“We are proud to partner with the City of Orillia to demonstrate the many benefits the Bell Smart City platform can provide to communities of all sizes,” said Bell Senior Vice President Gary Semplonius. “Orillia is clearly a leader in the adoption of innovative technology and is well positioned to take the lead as one of Canada’s Smart Cities.”

Orillia was identified by Bell as a prime “small municipal” (less than 50,000 population) partner due to its recent growth and progressive embrace of smart technologies. Bell has also announced pilot projects with two larger Ontario municipalities, the City of Kingston and the City of St. Catharines.

In 2016, Council established a Smart Cities Working Group, made up of Councillors Ralph Cipolla, Sarah Valiquette-Thompson and Mason Ainsworth, along with economic development and information technology staff.

The implementation of free Wi-Fi in the Downtown and at Couchiching Beach Park was identified as the key priority of the working group and of Council.

The partnership with Bell also solidifies Orillia’s commitment as a developing Smart community, increasing its profile substantially in this space and setting it up as a model for others to follow.

“The partnership with Bell moves the City of Orillia to the forefront of communities in Canada in the area of Smart City initiatives, and promotes the City as an innovative community in which to do business,” said Mayor Clarke. “The digital kiosks will enhance the tourism experience, promoting local community events and businesses to visitors to the City.”

The partnership is a one-year pilot commitment with any future commitments subject to future Council approval.

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