How does a town of just over 85,000 residents stay on top of the latest technology, execute successful innovation projects, and attain an international reputation for being one of Canada's most dynamic, diverse, and desirable towns to live in and work in? Hint: it is highly collaborative, is led by a Mayor who challenges his team to be creative and seek out innovative projects, and it knows how to have fun. Below we highlighted some of the projects that inspired us.
OPENNewmarket: the open data pilot project
A good example of how to innovate through a low risk, one year pilot project, OPENNewmarket allows the public to freely gain access to the Town's data via an open, online portal. Not only does this initiative foster greater transparency between the Town and the public, but it also facilitates new research projects using Town data and serves as the foundation for the development of new products and services in the form of apps that will improve the quality of life in Newmarket. Why we love it: transparency between the Town and the community, and encouraging open innovation to solve problems with data or get ahead of them before they arise.
HollisWealth Story Pod
Designed to be iconic, the HollisWealth Story Pod has become a global phenomenon. It was designed by AKB architects and, after originally launching last year, it is back in Newmarket's Riverwalk Commons for the second year (the same park as the Soofa Bench). The Story Pod opens and closes like a book and is also uniquely programmed. The concept, which is focused on building community, is for residents to take books and leave books, a system built completely on community trust. Why we love it: awesome design and a clear benefit to the community.
Newmarket + Soofa
The Town of Newmarket has an impressive goal of building an internet of things portfolio. Through a multi-phased partnership, the Town started first with the Soofa Basic charging bench to bring more 21st century technology into its main downtown park, Riverwalk Commons. The second phase will commence in 2017 when the Town will upgrade to Soofa's sensor platform to measure the activity level in the park.
As the first Town in Ontario, and second in Canada following Edmonton's launch in early June, the Town of Newmarket attracted media attention from local technology bloggers to a feature story on Breakfast Television Toronto.
Feeling inspired to innovate? Feel free to contact us anytime, we'd love to help you think through your next civic innovation project.