Digital Kitchener Innovation Lab aims to make Kitchener a smart city

Kitchener by the water

Kitchener, Ontario, is looking to become a smart city — meaning a municipality that uses devices that track things like traffic conditions, volume of garbage in waste bins and water main security.

Leading that initiative is Ontario’s first municipal innovation lab, which focuses on exploring the Internet of Things. The Digital Kitchener Innovation Lab is led by Karl Allen-Muncey, formerly a mentor with Wilfrid Laurier University’s tech incubator program and lab director for Postmedia’s Innovation Outpost and Development Lab, who will be joined by data science students in January 2018.

The Digital Kitchener Innovation Lab will explore and test new ideas that focus on four main areas: streamlining procedures and lowering costs; savings and revenue generation; data-gathering to support decision-making and user experience; and improving services for the public.

Allen-Muncey also explained the lab’s divided responsibilities. 70 percent of lab time is geared towards core city initiatives, 20 percent spent engaging with the community and 10 percent towards exploring new technologies.

“The Internet of Things is a huge arena, and it’s a gargantuan task to undertake at a city-wide level,” Allen-Muncey said in an interview.

The Lab has a three-year mandate to explore and implement innovations in order to make Kitchener a smarter city. Their goal is to have their city do such tasks, like using a network of sensors to figure out when it’s time to remove the trash or track street crime.

One example of a smart-city venture is the city’s recent installation of a mesh network of LED lights, where infrastructure access points and relays allow data to be shared and transmitted around the city.

The Innovation Lab correlates well with the federal ‘Smart Cities Challenge’ announced on the 23rd of November, which can award a city with up to $50 million CAD.

Source: Communitech News