Two large numbers — one and zero — have been making many appearances around Penticton lately, as the community rallies behind the Smart Cities Challenge, a Canada wide challenge that encourages communities to come together and adopt a smart cities approach to improve improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology.

Why the number 10? The volunteer group behind the drive to win $10 million to create a healthier city is hoping that 2000 people will take a picture with the giant ten to spread the word about Penticton’s application for Smart Cities Challenge, using the hashtag #10forpenticton. As well, the idea behind the bid is to find 10 technology based solutions that could make Penticton a healthier community.

Local entrepreneur and owner of Big Bear Software, Keith MacIntyre, discovered the Smart Cities opportunity as he was researching wireless technology, and after chatting with friends and colleagues, as well as staff at the City of Penticton — the municipality is the formal applicant and without its backing, there would not be an application — there was enthusiasm and agreement to pursue it.

“The support has been phenomenal,” says Keith, who works with about 20 volunteers to get information out, gather ideas, and ultimately, complete the application. The core team is about 10 volunteers who largely come from the growing remote worker community in Penticton, with half of them being new to the city.

Connecting with community groups in a wide variety of sectors has been critical to the process. “The true value has been getting these organizations to talk to each other and share dozens of amazing ideas,” continues Keith, who has found many parallels between spearheading the challenge and running his own business. “Both are about growing a team,” he says.

His own goal for the challenge? To see Pentictonites communicate in a more positive way, considering long term goals instead of just short term solutions. As the deadline looms in a few weeks, it’s clear that #10forpenticton has many people already talking.

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