Whenever the question comes up about digital transformation and the emerging tech sector, it would be easy to get caught up in the excitement of a dynamic industry and the promise that innovation brings. After all, based on our success here in Guelph in areas such as civic tech – in which we embed technological breakthroughs in city hall departments – an enthusiasm for tomorrow is understandable.

However, harnessing that excitement into a creative and achievable vision is the key to becoming a facilitator of tomorrow’s promise as opposed to a spectator.

There are of course many exciting things happening in Guelph. For example, our city’s selection as one of the top 3 North American cities for millennials to live is especially noteworthy given the great influence and contributions this emerging generation will make in the digital age. I would be remiss if I did not include our University of Guelph as an important contributor to attracting generation next as many of the students who attend the institution from other centres across the continent and beyond choose to stay here after they graduate. The University’s contributions also extend beyond the classroom, as many business owners cite the University as a major draw that attracted them to Guelph. Add into the equation that Guelph will have a stop on the planned high-speed rail line from Toronto to London, and you will understand why many see our fair city as poised and ready to take its place in the emerging digital age.

What is important to note is that these developments did not happen by chance, but are the results of a balanced strategy for digital transformation. And inclusion is at the heart of our digital strategy’s success to date. From the very beginning, we have actively engaged our traditional industries such as agriculture and solidified our commitment to both attract and retain the talented people who are the driving force behind our digital vision, while championing our innovative “civic tech” initiatives. In the end, Guelph has not only recognized the tremendous opportunities brought forth by the emerging digital age, but we have also embraced our role as a proactive leader in facilitating the dawn of an exciting new tomorrow for our city and its citizens. That is what I would define as being a “smart city.”

Join me as I welcome Canada’s high-tech thought leaders to Guelph on February 27th to Long View’s ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference.