Yes indeed, it’s time to build Canada’s 21st-century infrastructure

This summer, Adam Belsher, CEO of Magnet Forensics wrote a piece for the Globe and Mail that I’ve been pondering. Take a look:

It’s time to build Canada’s 21st-century infrastructure
by Adam Belsher
The Globe and Mail, July 28, 2016

Canada’s economy is facing serious headwinds. Our trade deficit continues to grow. Our economic growth has been stunted as the world moves toward a post-commodities-driven economy, toward wealth creation where intangible goods drive the greatest profit. This new reality is putting our social infrastructure, health care, education and other public goods at grave risk.

Our federal government has recognized these challenges and committed to stimulating our economy through infrastructure investments. This could pay great dividends – or leave our next generations with a heavy bill to pay. The result depends on our leaders’ ability to make calculated investments in what’s needed for the future.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Excellent article! Talking about strategic investments and future markets, the UK and the US are great examples of identifying the benefits of stimulating the “Smart City” market, already estimated globally at $1 trillion per year. I’m using “Smart” to include all elements of urban digital transformation to what today we are calling a combination of Smart/Intelligent/Sustainable/Resilient etc. – in other words, our Future Communities.

The UK is pursuing two goals: Create a nation of the world’s leading Future Communities and also capture 10% of the global market for their own export business. To achieve their goal … and they are already succeeding with excellent results, they created the Smart Cities fund of approximately $500 million and invited cities to submit proposals for demonstrator projects involving 1,000 to 10,000 users. They are also creating “Catapults”, which are a series of Smart City innovation centres with a combination of incubation, demo developments, etc.

The US through US Ignite is funding cities in a targeted way too: $40 million for the best autonomous vehicle support program which Columbus won, and clustered gigabit cities are just two examples.

The point of all this is governments are being strategic and supporting market development where the funds will then flow through to the technology companies and others to solve and implement the new systems. Those companies are then going out and competing in the global Smart City market with support from great customers back home as references. This is different from ignoring market development with its flow-through of funds to suppliers and trying to “push” by focusing the funding on suppliers and letting them figure out the markets.

There is a real advantage to government policy that supports our cities. Our cities account for +80% of our people, our GDP and our innovation. The UK and the US have it figured out and so have China, India and the small guys like Estonia, Hong Kong, (30 gigabit per second community network development … 1,000 times faster than in Canada) and Singapore too.

We have great Islands of Excellence upon which to build. Four years ago “the other guys” started funding their cities for these 21st century opportunities. We need national determination to turn innovation words into action and cities is where the action can be magnified many times.

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