Help Cochrane get smart

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Community participation is identified as critical to the success of the town’s vie for $50 million as a competitor in the federal Smart Cities Challenge.

As the town looks to devise a 50-word mission statement that, if successful, would earn them a $250,000 grant to write their strategy to compete for the grand prize, roundtables of tech experts and engaged residents easily reached a consensus that if the community doesn’t buy in, it won’t fly.

“I was very pleased with the public engagement session,” said Mayor Jeff Genung, who is fully behind the initiative and is excited about the doors that will open once Cochrane works to become more tech smart, more savvy and more sustainable.

“What I’m the most excited about is what I’m seeing as a tech advisory committee forming,” he said, adding that regardless of whether or not the town makes the cut, he foresees the committee as an ongoing liaison group as the town looks to innovations.

Kevin Shier of Bird’s Eye Technologies is a Cochrane resident who has taken a front seat to participate in an initiative he feels has endless possibilities.

“We’re not talking technology, we’re talking about social change … people will use it as long as it’s something they need,” explained Shier, who participated in the town-hosted community round table session at the Alliance Church on March 1.

“Nobody could have ever estimated how successful Facebook would become – but it filled a need … we have to have community engagement during this entire process.”

Shier said rather than looking at the mission statement as the starting point, the group is looking at the proposal as a whole and then breaking it down into 50 succinct words to help craft the perfect mission statement.

The town is looking to create a technology template that could be duplicated elsewhere – a template that would make Cochrane a more efficient community through the employment of technology.

As far as Genung, CAO Dave Devana and engaged techies are concerned, the sky is the limit.

The deadline for submissions is April 24.

Genung announced two weeks ago that instead of looking for the $10 million or $5 million prizes, the town was moving ahead to compete for the top prize of $50 million – competing against large city centres to put Cochrane on the map.

To learn more visit letstalkcochrane.ca.

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Lindsay Seewalt

Lindsay is a senior Eagle reporter who has transformed her penchant for storytelling into the craft of writing. She has a knack for getting the scoop on stories and is a strong interviewer. The U of C and MRU English/Journalism graduate is committed to telling every story through a new lens, from a fresh perspective. Currently, her focus is on news and politics reporting, including town hall. She has a passion for providing a platform for underdogs, grassroots movements and those who have the courage to put themselves out there. She bases the strength of her stories on the depth of her connection with her interviewee, which is best done over too much coffee.