Hampstead as a Smart City

2017-08-23

What is a Smart City?

A smart city is one that does smart things, often using cutting edge technology, but not only technology. The goal is to find ways to save money and to improve residents’ lives in their interactions with the city.

Recently, I attended and was a guest speaker at the Smart City Expo LATAM in Mexico. All expenses were paid by the Quebec government and I was the only Mayor from Quebec. I spoke about how even a tiny town can be a Smart City. Dominique Anglade, Minister of the Economy, Science and Innovation, is promoting Smart City practices and Hampstead is proud to be a leader in this field.

What makes Hampstead a Smart City?

We were the first in Canada to use Streetscan, a system whereby a van drives over every street and takes several measurements above and below the road surface. The end result is a report on the condition of every street. As an Alpha user we got an excellent price. We are about to use this company to do the same for our sidewalks and also to capture all our street sign data. Again, we will be the first in Canada.

We were one of the first (if not the first) in Canada to use iPads for paperless council and PAC meetings. We were one of the first in Montreal to use CodeRed for emergency notifications.

The town’s computer system is 100% virtual with some aspects stored in the cloud and fast communications with fibre optic cables between town buildings. Staff can work seamlessly from anywhere in the world and we no longer buy desktop PCs or hard disks. All we need are dumb terminals connected to the internet.

Our public buildings have free Wi-Fi as does Hampstead Park. We hope to expand to all parks and eventually to the entire town. Why? We want to encourage residents to use our web site and interactive apps. We will also need this for sensors to monitor and control much of our infrastructure.

What’s next?

We hope to launch many new interactive features on our web site by the end of the year. You will be able to purchase dog licenses, annual parking permits, get temporary overnight parking permission, order replacement garbage, recycling or compost bins, request our Public Security to watch your home when you go on vacation and more. Our Voila app which allows you to take a picture and report problems, like non functioning lights, pot holes, etc, will be improved and integrated into our staff work management system so that we can respond faster. Our eHampstead e-mails will become more attractive with pictures and direct links to sign up for programs and courses.

Over the coming years we will be moving towards the Internet of Things (IoT). Perhaps you have this in your home where you can adjust your house temperature, lights, etc, from your smart phone wherever you are. It is the same for the town. As one example, we plan to move to LED lights with sensors so we can have them dim late at night and move to bright when traffic (pedestrians or cars) is detected. We will also know immediately if a lamp post is malfunctioning.

We are still in the early planning stage for IoT but some possible applications are sensors to measure water quality so we will know in real time if there is a problem. Another app might monitor humidity in the soil of our green spaces so we don’t water when it is not necessary. The possibilities are endless. I am very excited about what is coming. We are a very smart city now and we will be much smarter in the next few years.

If you have any comments or questions on this topic or anything related to Hampstead, please e-mail me at wsteinberg@hampstead.qc.ca or call me 7 days a week until midnight at my home office (514) 483-6954.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead