MIX challenges

Municipal Innovation Exchange (MIX) challenges

Thank you for your interest in collaborating with our partner cities on our MIX Challenges. We are building on the work and momentum created by the original Civic Accelerator pilot and taking it a step further over three challenges thanks to the support and collaboration of our partners.

The challenges MIX will tackle are grounded on the needs of our citizens and the reality of municipalities. Take a look at the challenges you could help us tackle and if this is something that is of interest please visit each City’s Bids and Tenders pages.

Challenge #1– Better Information for Better Roads?

How might the City of Guelph improve the capture, monitoring, analysis and forecasting of information related to the quality of roads?
City of Guelph logo
Civic Accelerator logo

IRIS R&D Group Inc. has been selected as the company that will tackle the Roads Challenge with the City of Guelph’s Civic Accelerator. For full results on the RFP awarded see the visit City of Guelph’s Bids and Tenders page.

The broader opportunity

If a working solution is developed that meets the challenge of complex road decisions, this may benefit from a considerable market.

There are more than 765,000 km of road in Canada, and while more than half of these roads are in good condition, approximately 20% are rated as being in poor or very poor condition. Not surprisingly, municipalities, who own nearly 70% of all roads, spend a lot on road maintenance. The Municipal Benchmarking Network estimates between $12,000 and $18,000 is spent a year per kilometre of road. In 2019, for example, Guelph plans capital spending of $1,800,000 on major road repairs and $1,900,000 on restoration and resurfacing.

Background

The City’s Engineering and Transportation team need to accurately plan when and how to repair the City’s 581 kilometre road network.

Poor quality roads are a common concern for residents across all Canadian municipalities. They reduce fuel efficiency and cost residents hundreds of dollars in vehicle repairs. Deciding which roads to repair and how to repair them is challenging.

Firstly, it’s difficult for municipalities to predict how the conditions of roads will change over time. Different traffic volumes and weather patterns mean roads in the same city don’t deteriorate in the same way or at the same rate. Freeze-thaw events and adverse weather can also suddenly alter the condition of a road. Climate-change related increases in the number of freeze-thaw events, as well as the increasing average age of the road network are only adding to the challenge.

Secondly, it’s difficult to know how and when to repair the roads. Major road repairs need to be coordinated with other construction work (e.g., replacing sewers), and dynamic changes in the condition of the roads can disrupt plans for repairs and restoration (partial resurfacing, full replacement etc.). With limited information about each segment of road, it’s also difficult to know exactly which forms of preventative maintenance will be most effective – e.g., which cracks should be sealed before bad weather? When is the optimal time to resurface the road and what is the impact of not doing it? Should different sections of the same road be treated differently?

Optimizing repairs and maintenance for the road network will increase the lifecycle of City roads, maximize the value of road maintenance spending and improve the overall quality of the road network.

Outcomes

The City already gathers and uses data from other asset programs (e.g., sewers, water). The proposed solution must increase the range of data points collected (more than the current 9 data points) and the frequency of the collection of road condition data (more than every 3 years).

The proposed solution should also meet any of the following outcomes:

  • Reduce the time it takes to complete annual capital plans for roads;
  • Increase the accuracy of 10 year capital plans;
  • Reduce the average spend per segment of road over a 10 year period;
  • Improve average Pavement Condition Index scores over 10 year period; and
  • Increase resident satisfaction with roads by 10% in 10 years, from 2017 baseline of 65% (very or somewhat satisfied).

The City believes promising areas for exploration include predictive analytics, use of sensors for data collection, crowdsourcing, and AI for data analysis. Proposals that fall outside these areas will be equally considered in the evaluation process.

Challenge Partner

IRIS R&D Group Inc. is an Ontario company that puts privacy front row of their business model with their iPORT ™ Dash cam. Their dash cam integrates AI technology to detect road deficiencies and collects actionable data to prioritize work in cities. Together, the City and the company push the iPORT ™ Dash cam technology to identify deficiencies that could open preventative maintenance opportunities and shift decisions that can prolong the lifecycle of the City’s roads.

Challenge #2 – Understanding the usage of outdoor sport facilities

City of London
How might the City of London improve the capturing, monitoring, analysis of data for municipal outdoor sport facilities?

Status:: The City of London’s Parks and Recreation Team will work with Numina with the goal to advance the current technology to better understand how citizens are using public sports fields and amenities. To see results of the RFP visit the City of London’s Bids and Tenders.

Background

The Parks and Recreation department in the City of London currently administers approximately 7.15 square kilometres of park space, including 215 outdoor sports spaces. Sports amenities can be booked through Parks and Recreation, however, what is booked through the system does not always reflect the real usage. Additionally, maintenance staff are scheduled according to programmed usage of these spaces, not actual usage.

Currently, the only way to accurately track and monitor the usage of the open spaces is through staff inspections which are expensive to complete and are conducted infrequently.

Current pricing of outdoor sport fields remains low to remove affordability obstacles. However, older, well-established associations with greater capital have the ability to book space for an entire year and there is little cost-benefit incentive to update their booking registration for the occasions when they are not using the field.

During the yearly booking request process, the city prioritizes the utilization of these spaces by children and youth, given that adult sport associations have greater capacity to travel.

Outcomes

The proposed solution should meet the following outcomes:

  • Generate accurate space utilization data for outdoor parks and recreation amenities
  • Determine whether a space has been used in accordance to its schedule
  • Create usage metrics and records
  • Distinguish between types of user and usage

The proposed solution should allow for the Parks & Recreation department to have one or more of the following:

  • Increased supply of space without capital spending
  • Optimized use of space, increasing utilization to 95%
  • Cross-over with the on-line booking platform
  • Allowance for better, more efficient assignment and allocation of staff time
  • Allowance for better, more efficient use of infrastructure and utilities
  • Improvement of the quality of data used for capital planning and infrastructure upgrades
  • Improvement of the data on users and types of usage

Challenge Partner

Numina Logo

The City of London’s Parks and Recreation Team will work with Numina with the goal to advance the current technology to better understand how citizens are using public sports fields and amenities. Numina uses machine learning technology to collect information about high activity areas, for instance, how many users are walking or using a bicycle, or walking with a dog on our trail systems, all while protecting the privacy of residents. Working together on this pilot, the City of London and Numina will try to dive deeper into not just knowing how many citizens are using amenities, but what kinds of activities are they using them for. The analysis will help the City plan future capital projects and prioritize operations.

Challenge #3 – Winter is coming! Connecting community for independent living

How might the City of Barrie connect seniors and persons with disabilities with an innovative service model for clearing of residential windrows during the winter season?

Status: The City of Barrie has selected Simalam Inc and Snow Angels Canada to work on its snow removal challenge. To see results of the RFP visit the City of Barrie’s Bids and Tenders.

Background

The Roads, Parks and Fleet department in the City of Barrie currently provides snow removal services limited to roads and sidewalks, which receive different standards of clearing/service if they are primary routes which encompass major arterial roads and transit routes, or secondary routes. The pile of snow (called a windrow) at the end of a residential driveway that is created by a snowplow is the responsibility of the resident to clear. Many residents, in particular older seniors and persons with disabilities often do not have the ability or means to clear the windrow themselves and contact Service Barrie seeking assistance.

During a snow event, Service Barrie call volumes can spike up to 400 calls per day. These calls can be very lengthy, up to 15 minutes long.  Typical average length of calls in Service Barrie is 3 – 5 minutes.  Currently, the only recommendation that Service Barrie can provide to the resident is to contact a neighbour for assistance, call 211 Ontario (Social and Community Services) or hire a private snow removal service. It is the City’s intention to co-create a solution with the successful proponent to address the issue of windrow clearing.

Previously, City staff investigated programs offered in other jurisdictions, but the models were not applicable to Barrie either because of the high cost or the concerns about liability exposure for the municipality.  The focus of the challenge is to design a service model that leverages the resources already engaged in the community, along with enabling technologies to address the situation.

Outcomes

The proposed solution should meet the following outcome for the residents:

  • Enable residents within the City of Barrie to quickly and effectively get assistance clearing windrows during snow events.
  • Easily accessible by Seniors and Persons with Disabilities.
  • Solutions that have the potential to scale and/or incorporate a for-fee model for a portion of the user base.

The proposed solution should allow for the City of Barrie to achieve the following:

  • Service Barrie can provide the caller with a solution recommendation that supports Barrie Council’s Citizen Driven Services strategic plan.
  • Service Barrie can decrease call volumes by 10% – 25% and length of calls by 10% – 25% on a snow event day.
  • Must operate completely separately and independently from the City of Barrie.

Challenge Partner

Snow Angels Logo

Snow Angels Canada is an online tool that connects residents in need of snow removal assistance with volunteers in their neighbourhood. Established in 2015, this London-based platform was developed by Simalam Inc who specializes in creating community-minded website experiences. Although the City of Barrie does not own or operate the online platform, the City is working with Snow Angels Canada to customize it and refer it to those in need.