City pitches home monitoring system

Nick Seebruch
City pitches home monitoring system

CORNWALL, Ontario – The City of Cornwall has announced that it will be submitting an idea for the Smart Cities Challenge.

The challenge gives cities the opportunity to submit ideas to improve their community with the potential of gaining funding to develop those ideas into reality.

The City of Cornwall is proposing installing monitoring hubs in the homes of residents of Cornwall that would offer two-way communication between residents and emergency services. In addition to communicating with residents in the event of an emergency, the system would also send residents other kind of messages, such as reminders to check smoke detectors.

The system would connect at home emergency features like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to a resident’s cellphone as well as Cornwall Fire Services.

The system would also collect data about the home and its occupants. City of Cornwall Economic Development Officer Bob Peters envisions the system having knowledge about the number of occupants in a home, if they have any pets and even medical conditions.

When questioned about concerns about data security and privacy, Peter’s acknowledged that there were concerns.

Peters said that concerns about privacy would be addressed in a future phase of the project if it is selected by the Smart Cities committee to move forward.

“It is a part of the proposal to address some of these questions,” he said. “Not all of these answers are in place.”

Peters said that he envisioned the possibility of residents choosing not to share all of their data, or to opt out of certain features of the system. He also pointed out that the City already has experience in dealing with sensitive data like tax information.

The project has yet to be costed, but Peters said that aspect of the proposal would be developed if Cornwall’s idea made it to the next phase of the Smart Cities Challenge.

If the idea goes ahead, then the City would engage in thorough public consultations.

“It’ll be really neat because we will be developing this idea together as a community,” said Cornwall Fire Chief Pierre Voisine.

Voisine said that for him, the big advantage is the connectivity between emergency services and monitoring systems like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

“Even if that is the feature that is on in everyone’s home and they turn everything else off, it is still a big win for us,” said Voisine.

Cornwall will find out this summer if its Smart Cities application was successful. Cornwall will then receive funding to develop the idea further.

Residents are encouraged to send their feedback on the idea to the City of Cornwall either through email or their Facebook page.

Find the city’s proposal on their website here.

Smart Cities is a contest being run by Infrastructure Canada with a top prize of $50 million. Learn more about Smart Cities by following this link.

Cornwall City Council issued a directive at a Council Meeting on Feb. 26 that a committee be created to build a short list of ideas for the Smart Cities challenge. The committee was supposed to work 40-50 hours on this proposal with the possibility of creating online surveys and social media consultations prior to submitting an idea. The committee was then expected to consult with the community on the best idea to submit.

Cornwall has until April 24 to submit its final Smart Cities proposal.

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