The City of Vancouver’s new digital strategy promises online services, support for the digital media economy and free wi-fi
Vancouver city council will vote tomorrow morning (Wed., April 10) on a new strategy that will enhance and coordinate the city’s efforts to provide web-based services and support the local digital media scene through to 2016.
The city identified increased access to online services and support for the digital media industry as key priorities in its 2011 economic action plan.
“[The strategy] was identified as a priority both because we really have this booming, exploding digital economy here, but also because traditional businesses or business whose core may not be technology or digital also are struggling to ensure that they can keep up with the pace of change,” says Vancouver city councilor Andrea Reimer, a key proponent of the plan.
The city seeks to emulate the success that New York, San Francisco, and Manchester—all leaders in online innovation—have seen by putting more services online, subsequently increasing engagement with citizens via the web.
Permits applications and licensing will move online and the city promises more community engagement through its website and social media channels.
Other key measures include kick-starting a digital district and support for local startups. A future municipally backed incubator, providing startups with training, services and access to venture capital, will be housed in an ex-police station in the Downtown Eastside.
The city also plans to spend on infrastructure, which will include software, hardware and telecommunications equipment, and making municipal data accessible online.
In the fall of 2012, the city solicited ideas to be included in the new strategy from residents and business owners. Among the winners: more open data sets, a mobile-friendly Vancouver.ca, free city-wide wi-fi and mobile service requests.
“When most people interact with the city it’s not because they have a policy they want to initiate, it’s because they need a license, or they want to pay their property taxes on time, so we’re making sure that that’s transformed into a 21st-century function,” says Reimer.
The City of Vancouver has allotted $28-$30 million to be spent in implementing the plan over the next four years.