What inspired you to take on your role as the Connected Communities Coordinator at Parkland County? What do you like most about it?
The Smart Parkland project has 7 pillars to it: Connectivity, Knowledge Workforce, Innovation, Social Inclusion, Marketing, Advocacy and Environment. When you look at the project as a whole it’s something that feeds my career values. I’ve been here a little over a year and I love the fact that Parkland County is working on being a leader in rural resilience. There’s no specific area I like the most, I think overall it’s the program can create another layer to living rural. Being rural is already the best and by adding a project that enhances that lifestyle more is ideal.
Tell us about Parkland County. What do you love about it? What is one thing everyone should know about it?
Parkland County is this amazing blend of Agriculture, business and residents. We’re a rural community who is working towards more innovation constantly. We have amazing people and places within our community so no matter what you’re looking for; a place to farm, a place to do business, a place to simply live or come as a tourist, we can accommodate and give you the experience you want.
If you have a free afternoon in Parkland County what do you like to do?
Checking out the local businesses. We have stores and shops in some of the most rural locations. You can travel around and be in a gift shop, a restaurant, a green house, a farmers market. Most aren’t in a traditional strip mall or commercial area. You’ll find them in peoples yards, on their farm or through a community hall. It’s like a treasure hunt. We also have fantastic natural areas to explore!
Parkland County is doing some really innovative work to create connected communities. Being a very rural county, what types of challenges do you face you face when planning and implementing technology initiatives and how do you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge isn’t connectivity. We’re working towards that. It’s capacity. As a rural community we have a hard time getting the internet speeds we need. That’s a huge disrupter for the businesses and residents. We have innovators and lifelong learners throughout our community. Not having the capacity limits some of things they can do. We are looking at ways to improve this but it’s a long and expensive process.
How does the Soofa Bench fit into your broader technology initiatives in the County?
The bench fits in our Innovation and Environmental pillars. We know being rural many people use their phones as their primary device being it’s a mobile way to connect which they can’t always get where they live. By installing the Soofa it gives us another way to serve them.
Where did you place your Soofa Bench and why did you choose that location?
We’re placing this first bench at the Meridian Sports Park. It’s a great first place to pilot it. It’s a busy park seasonally and an easy way for people to keep charged while they’re there. Eventually we’d also like to see wifi in that park. People say they should be watching the kids not on their phones but the reality is that now the phones are our cameras, our connection to social media to share the experience as well as a safety device.
If you had one wish to improve Parkland County, what would it be?
For me it would just be the internet capacity issue. From a community perspective we couldn’t find a nicer place to live!
Do you have an innovation project in process? Are you thinking about starting one? We'd love to help!