Commentary News

These N.B. Businesses Could Prosper in a High Growth Smart City Sector

Nexgen solar power generating station
NexGen is building N.B.’s first solar power generating station on a dairy farm. Image: Submitted.

According to several business reports, the global smart city/community market is estimated to grow from about $400 billion (U.S.) in 2017 to $1.2 trillion in 2022, a compound annual growth rate of 23.1 per cent, and reaching between $2.6 and $3.5 trillion by 2025/26. In other words, this sector is where the Internet was about 20 years ago – in its infancy.

To put those numbers in perspective, Canada’s GDP was $1.7 trillion in 2017 and our provincial GDP was $32 billion. In four or five years, this market sector will be worth almost 40 times New Brunswick’s entire economy.

Artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud computing are some of the technologies that communities will apply to generate social, economic and environmental opportunities for their citizens.

These technologies will be citizen-centric and municipal-centric. Citizen-centric apps will help improve patient-centred health care, food security, mobility and help reduce social isolation. Municipal-centred apps will help improve the security of municipal water and wastewater systems, reduce risk due to extreme weather events and increase tourism revenue, to name a few opportunities.

These technologies will help municipal, provincial and federal governments implement financially feasible solutions and provide growth potential for several New Brunswick-based businesses, such as Simptek, ThermaRay, Total Pave, WENTech, Hot Spot, eChart Healthcare, Garago Software, Eh Eye, Kitchen Fashions and Nexgen Energy.

Simptek combines hardware and software to provide real-time energy monitoring for commercial properties, such as arenas, office and apartment buildings. Real-time energy data helps building owners efficiently identify cost-saving opportunities relative to traditional methods based on the data generated by the monitoring process.

ThermaRay manufactures radiant heating systems for residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Electric radiant heat is comfortable, energy efficient and is an integral component in smart buildings. ThermaRay clients include skyscrapers in New York City and Lucas Oil Field, home of the NFL football team, Indianapolis Colts.

Total Pave develops an application that helps reduce the cost of monitoring and maintaining pavement conditions.

WENTech Solutions application, anessa TM, provides business case and technology analysis for converting organic waste to energy.

Hot Spot provides real-time parking solutions for municipalities such as apps that eliminate the need to pay for parking meters with change, and maps that show where available parking lots are available in cities.

eChart Healthcare helps long-term care homes simplify the charting process so they can provide more focused care for their residents. The app also provides caregivers and family members secure access to their loved one’s health information, so they are always up to date.

Garago Software develops municipal management software, such as building permits, complaint tracking, surveys, project management and citizen engagement.

Eh Eye helps protect cities and other infrastructure such as stadiums, seaports and generation stations through artificial intelligence embedded in closed circuit television systems.

Kitchen Fashions provides functional kitchen modifications for people with limited mobility with features such as extra high toe kicks and unique pull-down accessories from cabinets.

Nexgen Energy offers a broad range of renewable and energy efficient products and services as well as innovative financing options.

To learn more, visit Cities of New Brunswick Association. The association is hosting a one-day Smart Communities Symposium on Wednesday, March 28 in Fredericton. Speakers from Parkland County, Alberta, Cork, Ireland, Fredericton and Dieppe will share their smart community experiences and successes.

New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada are well positioned to prosper in this high growth sector. We can accelerate business growth thanks to our close personal and professional relationships, private and public-sector cooperation, and ability to get things done quickly relative to larger centres. All while benefiting our citizens and municipalities.

This experience and collaboration will give our region a strong foundation for national and international growth, which means more jobs, increased tax base and more efficient services with which to serve our citizens.

Peter Corbyn is managing the Cities of New Brunswick Association Smart Communities Project, an initiative open to all municipalities and regions in our province. Corbyn has focused on various aspects of sustainability and technology for more than 25 years. He lives in Hanwell, New Brunswick.

This is the second of a three-part series on the Smart Cities Symposium.

Part 1: How Smart Cities and Communities Could Be As Revolutionary as the Smart Phone