The City of Yellowknife is one of twenty finalists in the Smart Cities Challenge, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at the Federation of Municipalities Conference in Halifax today.

The City of Yellowknife, in partnership with Ecology North, Northland Utilities, and White Arkitekter, is thrilled to be selected as a finalist in the Smart Cities Challenge. The pan-Canadian competition encourages communities to adopt an approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data, and connected technology.

The city won a $250,000 prize for their plan to retrofit the city’s existing streetlights.

The initial prize funding will be used to prepare a final Smart Cities Challenge proposal for a chance at the $5 million grand prize.

“The first step will be creating a mesh network among our lampposts that allow them to communicate with each other and with a central location,” said Mike Auge, Manager of Sustainability at the City of Yellowknife.

“From there, much like apps on a smart phone, a variety of innovative ideas could be incorporated into the lamppost to help us achieve our desired outcomes and to improve the sustainability of Yellowknife.”

The cost of retrofitting the streetlights will depend on how the city decides to use these technologies.

The cost to set up electric car charging stations will be different than setting up Wi-Fi hot spots.  Lamp posts in different areas of town may be retrofitted differently, so the cost may vary between lamp posts depending on which technology they choose to use, city officials said.

Once this network is installed, some of the capabilities for Yellowknife streetlights could include the ability to dim light to reduce light pollution, act as a Wi-Fi hotspot, charge electric vehicles, collect informatics, and host interactive information kiosks.

Informatics is a type of information gathering. This technology may be able to perform commuter counts in an area  including pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles, as well as monitor snow levels and record lighting information.

“This project will reduce energy costs, reduce light pollution, build electric vehicle charging infrastructure and promote sustainable tourism opportunities,” said Craig Scott from Ecology North.

An example of a sustainable tourism opportunity would be aurora tourism.

The retrofitting would allow the city to be dark sky compliant, which means reducing the amount of light pollution outdoor lighting produces.

The prize money will be used for further engagement and piloting the lampposts in a test neighbourhood.

Where and when the lampposts will be piloted is “to be decided after further engagement”, the city said.