On Wednesday of this week, Greener Acres Canada and Nokia signed a deal for the production of ‘smart city green poles.’ They plan to use much of the 48 000 tons of electronic waste produced annually in Ontario as key raw materials for the project.
The initiative is thus designed to improve the communication infrastructure needed for the digital ‘smart cities’ of tomorrow, and move the province one step closer to a sustainable circular economy.
A common vision unites Greener Acres and Nokia
Greener Acres Canada is one of many companies dedicated to a greener future for the country. Their specialty is turning waste into products our economy and society need. And what better partner for the project than the Finnish telecommunications giant. Together they plan to replace telephone poles throughout the province, and maybe someday the country, with ‘intelligent’ green ones made of recycled waste.
These green poles are designed to allow for the high volume broadband communication needed in the transition towards technologically connected metropolises. But the benefits will extend well beyond the urban hubs of Canada. The high-speed broadband accelerated by these poles will spread out across the country, improving communication and lives for all Canadians.
This is not Nokia’s first foray into smart city technologies
As a specialist in information and communication technologies, the Finnish multinational giant has long been active in ‘smart city’ projects at the cutting edge of the telecommunications industry’s cutting edge. With such cities guaranteed to play a key part in our digital future, it is no surprise they want to get involved!
In 2016 Nokia was in the running to improve ‘Internet of Things’ solutions for India’s smart cities initiative. Their projects imagined everything from helping India to handle its radioactive waste with intelligent meters through to smart, integrated parking systems. The vast project rested on smart city technologies being developed and tested at Nokia’s Bell Labs Future X.
But they found working in India complicated to say the least, announcing at one point that delays in the projects were due to a poorly streamlined process that could have done much more to work with local businesses. This perhaps explains their eagerness to form local partnerships and work with Canada’s better-organized bureaucracy.
Nokia working towards 100% smart Canadian cities with Greener Acres
The joint smart-pole initiative aims, first and foremost, to eliminate electronic waste by recycling it into a smart city rebirth. Cutting down on the burden on landfills, the e-waste will see new life as pillars of the circular economy while enabling smarter cities for Canada.
These new ‘smart cities’ will benefit from the improved communication infrastructure in a number of key ways. Meters, data collectors and other IoT innovations will help run intelligent and efficient streetlights, parking, public transportation and even water treatment facilities!
While they are still a small company, Greener Acres Canada plans to do its part to contribute, using their proprietary tech and techniques to transform the e-waste into over a thousand ‘smart city green poles.’ However, they will no doubt be leaning on the presence and expertise of Nokia in Ontario; a company that will provide considerable expertise in network infrastructure with its depth of experience in bolstering innovation.
Ontario is one piece of Canadian multifaceted smart city tech push
Nokia and Greener Acres Canada are not the only forces helping to transform Ontario and Canada more broadly. Smart city initiatives are cropping up across the country, and Ontario just ended a contest round for smart city innovators in September. The results of which might provide another step in the ongoing transformation.
Yet not all plans have been greeted with open arms. Earlier this year, citing ‘Covid-19’ pressures, a Toronto waterfront project called “Quayside” fell apart when the Google-based Sidewalk Labs pulled out of the endeavor. The real reason behind the project’s failure? A lack of transparency, accountability, and compromise on questions of data-use. From security to property, questions of data management are at the core of the debate around smart cities and, unless that debate is tackled ahead of time, any large scale projects may be faced with severe pushbacks or delays.
While we do not see such a hurdle being a problem for the Greener Acres Canada project, perhaps its implementation, if successful, will help provide the frameworks needed for more intensive data-based smart city initiatives across the country. As well as helping to establish Canada as a hotspot for leading innovations in smart technology and environmental solutions.
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