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Vancouver's Digital Strategy

digital strategy

Digital technology is changing the way the City of Vancouver delivers services and the way citizens and businesses engage with the City and each other.

The popularity of smartphones and tablets, the pervasive use of social media and the growth of data, analytics and the "cloud" are all creating opportunities to improve City services, expand digital infrastructure and strengthen Vancouver's growing digital economy.

To this end, the City of Vancouver is developing a Digital Strategy that will outline both immediate and future areas of opportunity to enhance digital engagement and access, improve infrastructure and support the digital economy to the benefit of people who live, work and play in Vancouver.

Our road map will continuously evolve – as digital technologies evolve.

Read about this initiative in-depth

Related projects

Progress on this initiative

Chief Digital Officer appointed to carry out Digital Strategy

September 12, 2013 – Following an extensive and rigorous search process, Ms. Jessie Adcock has been hired as the City’s Chief Digital Officer. The Chief Digital Officer is a new role within the organization that is mandated to lead the implementation of the City’s Digital Strategy.

Council approves Digital Strategy

April 10, 2013 – Sandra Singh, Chief Librarian, provided a Report Reference about the City's Digital Strategy to Council at the April 9, 2013 Regular Council Meeting. The report was referred to the Standing Committee on City Finance and Services on April 10, 2013, where it was officially approved by Council.

We heard ideas from over 800 people – thank you!

December 31, 2012 – To gather ideas for the City’s Digital Strategy, people who live, work and play in Vancouver were invited to share their ideas through an online ideas platform. This forum was pre-populated with some of the top ideas gathered from a number of focus group sessions with citizens, businesses, and employees.

Through this forum, participants were asked to add, comment, and help prioritize ideas by voting for their favourites. In total, 823 users submitted 43 ideas, 64 comments, and 830 votes.

This forum is now closed, and feedback collected is being integrated into the Digital Strategy. Thank you for your help!

Share your ideas for the our Digital Strategy

December 11, 2012 –You are invited to share your ideas for the City's Digital Strategy. An online ideas platform has been made available for people who live, work and play in Vancouver. It has been pre-populated with some of the top ideas gathered from a number of focused group sessions with citizens, businesses and employees. Help us:

  1. Prioritize the ideas by voting for the ones you agree with
  2. Add new ideas that are not already here
  3. Tell us how we might address access challenges to your favourite ideas through your comments

Consultation begins with many stakeholders and avenues

November 28, 2012 – To support the development of the Digital Strategy, consultation with internal and external stakeholders as well as the broader public is taking place. This includes the following elements:

  • Formation of an external advisory committee to provide a combination of industry best practices, innovation, and academic insights to the creation of the Digital Strategy
  • Focus group conversations with service providers and tech experts in the city to delve into questions of digital inclusion, access and e-government opportunities, infrastructure and policy
  • Broad idea generation from the public regarding online engagement with their municipality
  • In depth interviews with employees across the broad range of departments in the City

Strategic analysis

With respect to the digital realm, the City has five distinct roles:

  1. Set policy that supports the social and economic development of Vancouver, transparency, and accountability (for example, open data)
  2. Regulate certain aspects of digital technology within the jurisdiction of Vancouver
  3. Use digital technology to enhance citizen service and to ensure citizens have multiple ways to access and engage with the City
  4. Provide infrastructure to support economic growth and innovation
  5. Ensure organizational processes are more efficient and effective through use of digital technology.

The Digital Strategy seeks to unify the City’s vision and investments with respect to digital technology adoption and service delivery, ensuring that the City of Vancouver has a coherent approach to its technology and digital service investments.

It provides an integration framework for initiatives already underway, such as the recently approved Permits and Licences Transformation Program, and plans for the Vancouver Technology Centre, a technology incubation and acceleration centre

Finally, it identifies emerging priorities such as the launch of a social media strategy and extending Wi-Fi for employees at various City facilities.

Key themes

  1. Design strategically. Deploy tactically.
  2. Empowered employees support empowered citizens.
  3. Digital governance is required to ensure strategic impact and reduce risk.

Financial implications

The Digital Strategy provides a framework to guide strategic decisions regarding the City’s digital services and infrastructure that enhance the City’s services and access for residents, and strengthen Vancouver’s economic competitive advantage.

It identifies nine priority initiatives and associated projects and actions at various stages of development.

The total estimated value of the Digital Strategy initiatives is approximately $30 million over the four-year life of the strategy. Most priority actions, representing $28 million, are already funded or have funding approved by Council as part of the 2013 Budget Process and will proceed as planned. This includes major projects such as the Permit and Licenses transformation.

The remaining initiatives are estimated to require $1 million to $2 million of City funding.

For these initiatives, staff will develop project plans and funding strategies for consideration and prioritization as part of the regular budget and capital planning processes, or will bring to Council as a separate report, as appropriate. The development of funding strategies will consider strategic partnerships that can assist in advancing initiatives.

What we are doing now

Advances in digital technology are changing how cities deliver service and the ways they engage with citizens. Digital technology creates opportunities that can:

  • Improve service
  • Meet the increase in demand for an online presence
  • Optimize organizational and infrastructure investments
  • Strengthen the local economy

The City already makes a significant investment into digital services and infrastructure every year. For example:

  • The launch of vancouver.ca with its improved interface and user experience, and more efficient content management system
  • The City’s policy development in the area of telecommunications infrastructure (antenna installations on City-owned poles), commitment to real-time transportation information for citizens, and plans for a GIS-based wayfinding map system for pedestrians
  • 311’s at-home agent pilot and the employee mobility strategy

Each initiative realizes multiple benefits through improved service, increased options for citizens and businesses, or long-term cost savings.

Bridging the digital divide to help everyone participate

Only 54% of households with incomes of $30,000 or less have home Internet access, notes Statistics Canada.

That's a dramatic difference from households with incomes of more than $87,000 – the top bracket in the study – where 97% have home Internet access.

More recently, the Environics market research firm reports that, in Vancouver, 17% of city homes do not have Internet access, and 5% of homes that do have Internet are using low-speed dial-up access.

 As such, these homes have a limited ability to participate in the high-speed digital world, which is filled with multimedia and streaming content for news, entertainment, education, community engagement, and more.

Vancouver helps bridge the divide with computers, Wi-Fi, and free courses

While Canadians continue to rank among the world's top Internet users, joining and participating in the online world is not easy for everyone. Digital skills and ability vary dramatically by age and income.

The City of Vancouver has already made a significant investment in addressing the digital divide through the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) system of 22 branches. Specifically, VPL provides:

  • Over 400 computers with Internet connectivity and office software
  • Over 100 additional computers connected to subscription e-resources and government information
  • Free wireless (Wi-Fi) access throughout their branches

In 2012, these computers were used by more than 90,000 individual community members who logged 15,000 hours per week of computer time, and generated 1.4 million internet sessions. Community members also initiated more than 590,000 wireless sessions.

In 2012, VPL also offered more than 80 free basic and advanced computer, Internet, and social media courses, reaching more than 700 participants. Drop-in training and one-on-one sessions reached more than 1,000 residents who needed help using technology.

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More ways to contact us

Get the Digital Strategy

Read the Digital Strategy to find out how we are enhancing digital connections among our citizens, employees, businesses, and government.

Get the Strategy

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Contact the Chief Digital Officer

Jessie Adcock
Chief Digital Officer


Last modified: Mon, 02 Feb 2015 12:21:45