Building smart cities is an important stepping stone towardachieving an inclusive, smart economy for Canada. Aroundthree-quarters of Canadians (73.7%) live in cities, which provide the infrastructure for people’s lives and work—infrastructure that is rapidly becoming more digital, connected, and complex.
Skilled talent is needed to make smart city technology work, adapt, and evolve at the municipal level and beyond. City departments that used to operate in silos are now more interconnected; this requires teams to function better, including enhanced interaction, improved management structures, and better ethical oversight. On this journey, technical skills remain critical, but “human skills” are increasingly important across the board—including in technical roles. Skills like critical thinking, teamwork, negotiation, and communication increasingly enable organizations to be effective, agile, and accountable.
While disruptive in one sense, the pandemic also revamped municipalpriorities and processes, and highlighted two immediate needs: measuring success and ensuring sustainability. In this project, ICTC identified six key smart city pillars: smart energy and environment, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart health and wellbeing, smart government, and smart regulation. While many smart city projects contain elements of one or more of these pillars, all of them play a role in bringing longevity to short-term investments. Under these pillars, municipalities can build in broader metrics to quantify the return on investment (ROI) and social return on investment (SROI) of projects beyond their completion.
Public consultations held by ICTC in cities across the country uncovered two clear priorities held by Canadians, regardless of location: environmental wellbeing; and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Although many municipalities are committed to advancing netzero goals, DEI investments are becoming more commonplace, with recruitment and retention becoming a key focus. More municipalities are forming partnerships and alliances with equity-deserving groups and/or creating internal policies and programs that prioritize hiring from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) communities, newcomers, and people with disabilities.
Building a robust talent pipeline to power Canadian smart cities requires dedication, sound policies, and a clear line of sight to labour and skill demand. Although the type of labour and skills needed can vary by region and project, several in-demand jobs unique to each of ICTC’s smart city pillars emerged in this study.