City of Vancouver wins national award for digital strategy

Gregor Robertson
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

THE City of Vancouver was recognized Tuesday night at the 2018 IT World Canada Digital Transformation Conference and Awards Ceremony in Toronto, winning in the Large Public Sector Transformation category for its Digital Strategy.

Vancouver is the first city in Canada to develop and implement a digital strategy and the first to hire a Chief Digital Officer. The four-year strategy, implemented in 2013 has seen the City go from having low digital maturity relative to other global cities to now being a template and model for cities around the world looking to take their digital footprint to the next level.

“People, businesses and governments around the world are grappling with emerging technologies and the pace of technological change”, said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Through the City’s digital strategy, we’ve been able to leverage and embrace technological innovation to better deliver services to residents and provide them with tools to more actively engage and participate in local government.”

The City’s multi-year digital strategy focuses on four pillars: Engagement and Access, Digital Economy, Digital Assets and Infrastructure and Organizational Maturity. Each pillar has a unique goal, objectives and actions which were distilled from many ideas contributed by businesses, social service providers, citizens, and staff.

“Our digital transformation initiatives across the organization have delivered value and benefits to residents, staff, businesses and visitors,” said Jessie Adcock, Chief Technology Officer with the City of Vancouver. “It is an absolute honour to have our hard work recognized by IT World Canada, and we look forward to continuing to lead and innovate into the future.”


A key outcome from the strategy was the launch of VanConnect in 2015, the City’s mobile app that allows users to view and access information about various City programs and services from anywhere, at any time. Residents can perform almost all of their City-related transactions online through the app with a connected device.

To date the app has been downloaded over 40,000 times with over 100,000 service requests submitted to the City by people, using the app.


The City also launched #VanWiFi in 2015 giving the public access to free public Wi-Fi at an initial 43 civic locations. Recently, the City expanded coverage to more than 550 locations citywide, making VanWiFi one of the largest free public Wi-Fi networks in North America. #VanWifi was a core objective of the Digital Strategy and has been accessed by more than 280,000 users in 2017 alone.

With the foundation of the digital strategy in place, the City will continue to enhance digital connections and advance the City’s internal and external digital maturity through projects in connectivity, access to data, and interoperability. These projects will strive to increase economic opportunities, improve services, and provide the groundwork to transform Vancouver into asmart city.

Smart Cities Challenge

Currently, the cities of Vancouver and Surrey are shortlisted for a chance to win $50 million dollars for their joint submission to Infrastructure Canada for the Smart Cities Challenge.

The submission aims to deliver a model for Canadian cities and to ultimately position Canada as a global autonomous vehicle and smart mobility leader. The proposal identifies two collision-free corridors that will be equipped with smart mobility solutions related to:

  • autonomous shuttles
  • smart mobility infrastructure
  • advanced data and analytics, and
  • enhanced user experience

Finalists will now develop fully-implementable final proposals with the winners to be announced by spring 2019. For more details, visit

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