Vancouver, B.C. looking to spend $30M in digital push

vancouver-sceneCities throughout the world are trying to capture more tech talent, and our neighbors to the north are no different. Vancouver B.C. is planning a big push to bolster online government services, boost free Wi-Fi and strengthen its entire technology ecosystem, using efforts from Chicago, New York and other cities as a model.

According to BCBusiness, the City Council of Vancouver was set to vote today on a proposal that could pump $28 million to $30 million into the digital initiative over the next four years.

The city’s digital report notes:

“The challenge for Vancouver, and perhaps all cities, is to be more agile under the diametrically opposed pressure of consumer-driven technology adoption and expectations and the increasing need to minimize risk and maximize value. The Digital Strategy sets out a 4 year roadmap that moves Vancouver’s approach to digital from adhoc and sometimes siloed to an integrated and strategic approach that prioritizes key actions which will have the most value for citizens, business and the organization.”

In addition to a more streamlined online permitting process for citizens, the effort also includes a city-backed incubator in a former police station and expansion of free Wi-Fi in the city.

The most interesting part of the report (for readers here in the Pacific Northwest) shows where Vancouver’s tech ecosystem ranks in comparison to other cities, including Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

vancouver-effort

The B.C. effort comes as Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn makes a bigger technology push, including the Gigabit Squared fiber program and a new startup initiative. (Editor’s note: I’ve been serving on an advisory panel that relates to the startup efforts).

And as the chart above shows, Seattle appears to be better positioned in the four areas studied, ranking ahead of B.C. in all categories.

Not everyone in B.C. thinks that the effort will move the needle. Nikolas Badminton writes in The Huffington Post that it marks “a safe governmental play” — one that “falls short because it is designed to run at the administration’s pace.”

“Sure, we can’t reboot the whole city and its processes however the city should start side initiatives that address challenges in a new way without the constraints of what processes, technologies and organizations that exist today,” he writes. “This will mean new ways of structuring decision making and teams undertaking the work.”

You can see the full report embedded below.

City of Vancouver Digital Strategy by Vancouver Mayor’s Office

  • http://twitter.com/ubg Umit Gokce

    Good to see Vancouver stepping it up. We/they could benefit from stronger collaboration with the Seattle startup community.

    Would however suggest using some of the $30 MM to put their messaging on a jargon diet:
    “…be more agile under the diametrically opposed pressure of
    consumer-driven technology adoption and expectations and the increasing
    need to minimize risk and maximize value.”

    Can’t stop laughing.