June 17, 2008 - Canada’s largest high-tech association urges citizens to get involved, give input; creates online community powered by IGLOO
June 17, 2008 - (Ottawa, Ontario) -- The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) today praised a City of Ottawa Task Force report advocating the strategic leveraging of Information Technology (IT) to improve access to city services and lower the cost of service delivery.
"This is an extremely important report," said CATA Executive Vice President Barry Gander. "Our mantra is: 'First the city, then the country'. We confirmed in our TechAction Town Hall program that cities are the engines of our nation -- they contain 95% of all businesses and 80% of its population. In today's 'smart' economy, it is more important than ever that our cities have the best possible foundation to interact -- to share and coordinate the ideas, cultures and enterprises that drive the country. The Task Force on e-Government has made a very thorough case that strategic use of IT can transform the interaction of citizens with their city. This Report is a model for all Canadian municipalities."
Mr. Gander singled out three Task Force highlights for personal praise:
- The Savings Dividend: The use of IT to offset the rise in Ottawa's population can control infrastructure costs for all taxpayers, and can make Ottawa a more competitive place in which to locate businesses.
- Citizen-Focused Services: Adopting the Report's recommendation that citizens should get involved early in the planning process, the City can use this input to ensure that its online services meet the real demands of the businesses and users.
- Emergent technologies: One of the most promising areas is the harnessing of leading technologies. Creating a 3D virtual map of Ottawa that combines information from many sources would provide 'clickable' information about a building's rental rates, interior views, parking, accessibility and building plans; combining GPS tracking with City services like snow-plowing could tell ambulance drivers exactly which routes were clear to take.
Online Community Network Supports Report
CATA and its partner IGLOO Inc. created the community network that accompanies the Report, added Mr. Gander. "CATA has created several dozen social networks that help communities develop. We were pleased to make a contribution to the Mayor's Task Force, with a website that provides a vehicle for citizen interaction. We are especially pleased that we were able to use volunteer help from Algonquin College to create the videos that accompany the site, thus demonstrating the community spirit that is the essence of social networking ."
"Early social networking sites such as Facebook have turned people from web viewers into participants who want to participate and interact online," notes Gerard van Der Burg, head of Public Sector and Emerging Markets, IGLOO Inc. "Citizens in Ottawa can visit the site to learn more information, but then can use the interactive social networking tools to provide direct input to planners to ensure new online service are tailored to their needs."
OCRI Advises Setting of Ambitious Goal
Jeffrey Dale, President and CEO of the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI), stated that the Task Force Report should be used as a launch-pad for an aggressive course of action: "Ottawa is known as one of the world's most innovative cities. Our world-class technology combined with support from the municipal government presents a unique opportunity to leverage untapped talent and resources to create a stellar 'virtual welcome' for the city of Ottawa. Successful social networks empower and enable those that use them and we look forward to seeing the contributions from the people of Ottawa evolve into the best online practice of any city in the world."
"We see this as the first step in a vital process," added Mr. Gander. "Right now, the Task Force Report has opened up the conversation on how you use IT to spur the interaction between the City Government and the citizens it serves. We are confident that when citizens get engaged in the process, they will spark conversations invoking 'digital communities'-social networks that stimulate the blossoming of community awareness, connections and action, through citizen-led forums and dialogues. The ability of networks to link jobs with candidates, for example, is going to be vital as the shortage of skilled workers begins to get increasingly serious."
About the Report
The Mayor's Task Force on e-Government was set up to look at how the city makes use of IT. It made recommendations in three main areas: Citizen-Centricity, Investment, and Governance. The full Report can be found at:
CATA is Canada's largest high-tech association, with a community of 30,000 leaders who represent every sector of the Canadian economy. CATA's mandate over the past 30 years has been to grow the business of technology. CATA's TechAction Town Hall program involved a series of meetings with leaders in 12 communities across Canada, laying out a blueprint for the growth and use of high technology. For more information visit: www.cata.ca
Contact: Barry Gander, EVP, CATA 613-348-1220 [email protected]
About IGLOO Software
IGLOO Inc. is a turnkey solution provider which develops online communities for organizations of any size. Our solution suite combines Web 2.0 technology with on-demand hosting, consulting, e-engagement and all of the community support services necessary for a sustainable and successful deployment. Organizations use IGLOO communities internally to improve employee productivity (Workplace Communities) or externally to foster relationships with members, customers, partners and suppliers (Marketplace Communities). Fully integrated collaboration, knowledge sharing and Web 2.0 social networking tools enable organizations to quickly and cost-effectively create online communities to leverage talent, knowledge and relationships across organizational and geographical boundaries. IGLOO is funded by RBC Venture Partners. Jim Balsillie is Chair of the IGLOO board. For more information, visit .
The Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) is Ottawa's leading member-based economic development corporation for fostering the advancement of the region's globally competitive knowledge-based institutions and industries. OCRI delivers its economic development services through a unique partnership with the City of Ottawa, where the City and OCRI, through its members set the strategy and manage the programs that move Ottawa's economy forward. www.ocri.ca
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