For a country of just 36 million and only a handful of major metropolitan areas, Canada continues to punch above its weight when it comes to high tech cities.
Although there are many ways to measure the success of a city —looking to economic indicators like employment levels, poverty and median income is certainly key— experts say that with technology expected to play an even more dominant role in our lives going forward, predicting which cities will rise or fall in the future will have a lot to do with how wired they are becoming and how smart their growth will be.
Canada appears to be headed in the right direction, with its three largest cities all making it into a recent ranking of the world’s most high tech places on Earth. Published by the World Economic Forum, the list for 2017 was based on ten factors considered relevant to technological advancement, such as the number of patents filed by a city’s inhabitants, the number of tech startups and tech venture capitalists in the area and the level of smartphone use.
The final ranking of 85 cities had (you guessed it) San Francisco, California, taking top honours, with New York and London, England, rounding out the top three. But Toronto appears in ninth place, followed by Vancouver at 14th and Montreal at 18th. The report says that Toronto’s high finish is due to it being home to almost a third of Canada’s IT companies and being “rife with startups and innovative infrastructure,” making it likely to have a major impact in high tech well into the future.
About Vancouver, the report singles out the city’s tech-focused universities and low corporate tax rates, while Montreal’s high ranking was in part due to its vibrant programming and industrial design communities, which have carved out a niche for Montreal as a world class innovator for virtual reality and wearable technologies.
“If you want to know what the future will look like,” says Chris Weller, writing for Business Insider, “[the list of 25] are the cities to keep an eye on.”
Many cities are now focusing their efforts not only on encouraging tech industry growth (the current frenzy over retail giant Amazon’s search for a second North American headquarters is clear evidence of tech’s ascendency) but also on building smart: developing a city’s infrastructure in a more wired way.
Smart growth comes in a variety of forms, from energy-saving street lights and sustainability measures to nanosensors for tracking traffic flow and improving municipal waste collection, even using mobile devices and apps to encourage citizens themselves to help alert the city of issues and trends as they arise.
Regularly coming out on top in rankings of the world’s smartest cities, the Republic of Singapore has been praised for initiatives such as deploying sensors and cameras island-wide to track everything from street cleanliness to traffic, to whether or not people are smoking in undesignated areas or littering from high-rise housing.