Smart City Initiative – Fredericton, New Brunswick

In 1999, Fredericton (population 80,000 and the capital of New Brunswick, Canada) began building a high-speed information infrastructure. The City was looking to reduce its internal communications costs. There was no local competition. “We were paying three times the prices people in Toronto were paying,” says Maurice Gallant, the City’s chief information officer. It came up with a strategy to build its own fiber optic network, and cover some of the costs by selling spare capacity to other organizations and businesses in the city.

Frederictoncreated a non-profit, cooperative corporation called e-Novations. The coop recruited 35 key businesses and organizations as paying subscribers. Other users get free wireless access by piggybacking on these large bandwidth consumers’ demand.

E-Novations installed over 15 miles of fiber optic cable, linking 15 buildings directly and another 40 with point-to-point wireless. In 2003, Fredericton announced that it would use the fiber loop as the backbone for free citywide wireless broadband.

Due at least in part to its investment in intelligent infrastructure, Fredericton is home to more than 100 technology companies, and the new Canadian E-commerce research center. This means thousands of information technology jobs.

The City has also lowered its own costs, and improved the efficiency of municipal service provision.”Dollars are finite but what has been won in the battle for limited municipal budget dollars is that the intellectual infrastructure is as important as other municipal services and is getting its share of the budget,” says Maurice Gallant.

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