Dual movements have begun in New Brunswick and its largest city to improve the quality of life by encouraging people to develop projects with government and private data.

Cathy Simpson, a veteran of the New Brunswick tech community, told a session at the Big Data for Productivity Congress on Tuesday that different levels of government in the province are working with the public to understand how the data can be used to improve services for citizens.

The Vice-President Public Sector for the tech consultancy T4G said her company won a contract from Enterprise Saint John to develop a digital strategy for the city. And she revealed that the recently announced program to develop a digital government at the provincial level has been branded NB+. It is seeking ideas from the public on using data and digital technologies to improve services.

Building a Digital Government

“Success is creating a centre of excellence in the city,” said Simpson, who is also the Chair of the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation. “We’re putting a stake in the ground that data is … to fuel for the digital economy. We’re going to diversify the economy as a result and we’re going to accelerate the startup more project.”

In Saint John, T4G has partnered with such organizations as the global business services consultancy EY, Bell Aliant and the Cisco Systems Chair for Big Data at the University of New Brunswick to form the True Growth network. It aims to explore social and economic opportunities in the city using data. She added the other bodies such as the port and airport are willing to join the project.

“We are creating a vision for the city -- we want a digital city,” said Simpson. “We want to be generating new data and we want to know what people are doing and how we can make life better for them.”

At the provincial level, the government recently announced that it would form a partnership with TechImpact (formerly the New Brunswick Information Technology Council) to enhance citizen interaction with the government online.

The organization is called NB+ and it is now looking for proposals from the public on possible projects that would use data to enhance life in the province. The end goal is to get government and citizens working together to deliver the best and most cost-effective government services.

“We believe there is so much opportunity in our public sector that we are all in,” she said. “The companies of TechImpact are all in on developing a digital society.”