A number of civic, academic and business leaders will gather today to envision how Ottawa and Gatineau can become "smart cities" of the future.
Transit riders can already track when buses will arrive and drivers can add money to parking meters via their phones.
Driverless cars could be tested on the streets of Kanata this summer.
But things are moving quickly.
Data analytics, cybersecurity and the internet of things are transforming business, and cities are grappling with how to use those interconnections to help their residents, according to John Smit, acting director of economic development for the City of Ottawa.
Smit will be speaking at the conference put on by Library and Archives Canada and the University of Ottawa. The mayor of Gatineau and CEO of the National Capital Commission, as well as researchers and business executives, will all weigh in on what the future could look like.
"Ten years ago what you were able to do with your flip phone and what you're able to do with your phone today are like night and day, and could you have predicted that 10 years ago?" Smit said.
In the same way microwaves were a new convenience a generation ago, connected technologies should make life easier for people, said Campbell Patterson, a Kingston-based consultant who will also speak at Monday's event.
Patterson sees a future where technology allows people to receive health care, education, and do work without leaving home, which will mean less wear and tear on roads and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Smart technologies are already allowing cities to gather data to manage everything from garbage, to water, to traffic, and help them save money and time, he said.
For instance, in Barcelona, Spain, the municipality has sensors in garbage bins so that trucks only empty them when needed, he said.
"The prediction is there will be 50 billion sensors deployed [worldwide] by 2020," said Patterson.
For instance, autonomous vehicles could lead cities to install sensors on roads, Smit suggested.
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