As we approach the opening of Civic Hotel, we’re very excited about welcoming the business travellers who are playing a part in the incredible work and innovations being developed and carried out in the labs, offices, healthcare facilities and classrooms that surround us here in City Centre. One way to support these guests is to make sure they’ve got best and most up-to-date information about what’s happening in the municipality.
That’s why we were spreading the word that the City of Surrey is making it very easy for visitors and potential investors to research, identify and harness opportunities for business development. They’re doing this by providing multiple avenues of access to their enormous online library of data, all of which can help give a leg up to those who are trying to contribute to this thriving hub of innovation.
Open Data Platform
Simply put, the Open Data platform is an incredible tool. A component of the Smart Surrey Strategy launched in 2014, this award-winning program is designed to provide public access to the City’s internal databases. Access is being granted in the hopes of increasing public engagement and providing the data needed to instigate new collaborations that generate economic, social or environmental benefits.
The Open Data program provides you with access to over 400 layers of open data through API (application data interface). This gives you enormous control over the data you pull. There’s bulk data to encourage research or the development of digital tools, and there’s lots of real-time data. You can also apply your own frame to the 365 datasets to showcase information about pay parking stations, road closures, and obstructions, or traffic volumes. You can even find the route of a 4km walk in the area around Civic Hotel (or anywhere else), should you wish to take some air after a busy day.
Invest Surrey Tool
Entrepreneurs will be particularly interested in the City’s investment arm, Invest Surrey. This organization supports private sector investors interested in setting up business in Surrey, as well as collaborating with developers on projects. Their website identifies emerging trends, offers market intelligence reports and provides evidence-based suggestions for investment opportunities among other things. If you’ve already got a business idea, the website also offers a Site Selector tool for selecting the most appropriate site options, based on infrastructure, populations projections and other data.
Surrey’s Online Portal
The City’s web portal offers a wealth of information (much of it drawing on the data library) as well as a menu of local apps that can be useful to visitors. These include health and safety-related apps. Dinesafe Surrey provides the locations of restaurant, inspection results by municipal health inspectors, as well as shares requests with social medial channels. The Surrey RCMP app provides contact info, news and other useful prevention and safety information issued by the local police force.
A series of apps, most of them drawing on the data library, provide up-to-date, even real-time information about what’s going on in Surrey:
MySurrey: Created in 2015, the MySurrey app won the Union of BC Municipalities award for Best Practices (Community Connection) for its app linking viewers to a host of other local apps and information. Visitors to Surrey will find tons of useful information and connections to local news and social media platforms, local event listings, places of interest, Surrey maps and more. The app also links to the City’s online platform, which boasts some amazing connections to information like the City’s sustainability dashboard, Measuring Sustainability.
COSMOS: Aficionados of maps (you know who you are!) will enjoy an app for the City of Surrey’s mapping platform called COSMOS. This platform was the recipient of an Award of Excellence at the 2012 Esri Canada User Conference for its remarkable use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. Viewers can select layers that specify parks and recreational features, the transportation grid, land use or environmental features, among other things It provides multiple layers of fascinating information guaranteed to inform and illuminate those with a visual turn of mind.