Saint John has announced a series of events and initiatives that will use data analytics to improve life in the New Brunswick city.

The True Growth Network, the regional economic development partnership, announced last week that Saint John will use sensors, beacons, smart devices, and applications to collect and analyze data so the city can improve decision making. This will be complemented by a few events this year that will increase understanding of Big Data in the city and the region.

The projects are being led by T4G, Cisco Systems, HotSpot Merchant Solutions and Enterprise Saint John.

“Our vision is simple: Saint John will be a national leader in the use of big data analytics,” Smart and Connected Community volunteer board chair Andy MacGillivray said in a statement. “With data driving insight into the nervous system of the community, new layers of information will emerge that will lead to novel solutions to existing problems and to the identification of new economic opportunity.”

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The city has announced three initiatives:

•             Pattern of Life – This partnership between the four project leaders will collect and analyze data on vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow patterns in the Uptown. Using this data, they hope to improve services in the area and make the best decisions on capital projects. The data will provide an understanding of the relative performance of neighborhood infrastructure.

“For HotSpot the announcement is a step towards better serving the business community,” said HotSpot CEO Phillip Curley. “Currently we help businesses with their in-store experience, and through this project we’ll be able to expand that scope to the overall customer journey with assistance from Uptown SJ and Enterprise SJ.“

•             Big Data training courses – T4G will begin these in September to address an acute data science skills shortage. Other programs launched at the same time include training in digital accessibility.  The programs are timely because governments around the world are demanding minimum standards of digital accessibility that today are not being met.

•             Big Data Congress 2016 – Focusing on the industrial internet, the Congress is set for Oct. 3-5 at the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre. The inaugural event, held in January 2013 was the largest technology event ever held in Atlantic Canada. BDC2016 will once again features a two-day business congress followed by an event for New Brunswick high school students.

“Big data is changing the way we learn, the way we govern and the way we do business,” said T4G president Geoff Flood. “Saint John has a natural advantage to be a leader in the next massive movement to connect the physical and digital worlds – to connect the trades to ICT. … We have the talent and the determination to make this happen and in the process we will become a leader for other communities to follow.”