It takes a connected county to become an intelligent community...
Our lives are powered by the Internet. We rely on getting and staying connected for everything from growing our businesses to watching the latest TV shows, from completing post-secondary degrees to communicating with health specialists across the globe. Connectivity is so essential that the United Nations has declared Internet access to be a human right. But fibre-optic networks will just be "glass in the ground" if we don't work as a community to make sure we have the knowledge and skills required to take advantage of the opportunities created by connectivity. That's why we're working to make Grey County a “Connected County."
This year, we're shining a spotlight on creative technological innovation in agriculture and food with "Ag 4.0: The Next Big Thing" - and if you've arrived here after hearing about this event happening November 2-3 2016, please click here to register for this exciting event.
Explore this site to learn more what makes an intelligent community, read about key projects happening throughout our region, and stay up to date on the latest news and events through the blog. If you want to work with us to create connections and promote sustainable prosperity in Grey County, get in touch. We want to hear from you.
Ashleigh Weeden, Project Lead - Connected County Initiative
Phone: 519-372-0219 x 1255
Geoff Hogan, Director of IT/SWIFT Initiative Staff Lead
What Makes an Intelligent Community?
Broadband is the next essential utility, as vital to economic growth as clean water and good roads. Whatever the speed, broadband connects your computer, laptop or mobile device to billions of devices and users around the world, creating a digital overlay to our physical world that is revolutionizing how we work, play, live, educate and entertain ourselves, govern our citizens and relate to the world.
- Infrastructure Investment
Today, all desirable jobs in industrialized economies – and increasingly in developing economies as well – require a higher component of knowledge than they did in the past. It is by applying knowledge and specialized skills that employees add enough value to what they do to justify the cost of employing them. In the future, any employee whose "value-added" does not exceed his or her salary cost can expect to be replaced, sooner or later, by software or hardware. A continuous improvement in an evolving range of skills is the only route to personal prosperity.
- Specialized Skills
- Value Added
- Clusters of Excellence
Innovation is essential to the interconnected economy of the 21st Century. Intelligent Communities pursue innovation through an "innovation triangle" or "innovation triple helix" relationship between business, government and such institutions as universities and hospitals, creating an innovation ecosystem that engages the entire community in positive change and promoting local community and economic development. Investments in innovative technology by government contribute to that culture and improve service to citizens while reducing operating costs.
- Economic Development
- Service Excellence
- Digital Services
- Integrated Ecosystem
Digital equality is a simple principle: that everyone in the community deserves access to broadband technologies and the skills to use them. Like most principles, it is easier to understand than it is to live. The explosive advance of the broadband economy has worsened the exclusion of people who already play a peripheral role in the economy and society, whether due to poverty, lack of education, prejudice, age, disability, or simply where they live. It has disrupted industries from manufacturing to retail services, enlarging the number of people for whom the digital revolution is a burden rather than a blessing.
- Skills Development
Improving current living standards, while maintaining the ability of future generations to do the same, is at the core of sustainability. Throughout human history, economic growth has always involved the consumption of more resources and the production of more waste. As humanity begins to push up against the limits of the ecosystem to provide resources and absorb waste, we need to find ways to continue growth – with all of its positive impacts on the community – while reducing the environmental impact of that growth.
- Environmental Stewardship
- Quality of Life
- Triple Bottom Line
- Shared Goals
It is all too common for a community's leaders or groups of citizens to set themselves against changes that would ultimately benefit the community. The willingness to embrace change, and the determination to help shape it, are core competencies of the Intelligent Community. Few places naturally possess those competencies. They must be cultivated, often over years, through advocacy.
- Transformative Change
- Community Engagement
- Open Government
Smart Facts about Grey County
Did You Know?
Number of Businesses
Professional, Scientific & Technical Jobs Growth (%)
Broadband Availability (%)
What we've accomplished so far
Grey County is home to exceptional innovation in agriculture, food, and rural entrepreneurship. We work with leaders at home and abroad to make sure we're delivering the tools that our communities and businesses need to succeed. That's why we're shining a spotlight on creative technological innovation in agriculture.
The official conversation kicks off November 2-3, 2016 with the Ag 4.0 Summit + Innovation Tour. The Summit will take place on November 2, 2016 at Meaford Hall and the Innovation Tour will visit locations across Northern Grey County on November 3, 2016.
Together, we're building great things in Grey County and promoting sustainable, innovative, prosperous communities and leading the rural renaissance.
During the summer of 2016, Grey County redeveloped and re-launched a newly refreshed web presence at www.grey.ca. The website was rebuilt in-house using Drupal, an open-source platform, and features easier to navigate pages, more interactive content, and more opportunities for citizens to feel better connected to their county government.
On July 26, 2016 at the London Roundhouse in London, Ontario, the Governments of Canada and Ontario announced they are investing in the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project with contributions of $90 million each towards the total project cost of approximately $281 million. This investment will support the expansion of access to broadband by delivering fibre optic coverage to over 350 communities with a total population of 3.5 million across Western Ontario, as well as Caledon and Niagara.
Grey County has played a signficant leadership role in developing the SWIFT Initiative, with Director of IT Geoff Hogan serving as the SWIFT Technical Lead through a partial secondment and Ashleigh Weeden, Project Lead - Connected County Initiative, providing communications support through a partial secondment. Grey County was key to the early stage development, with former CAO Lance Thurston and former Warden Duncan McKinley leading the SWIFT Committee during its formative months. This project has been developing since 2011, with the funding announcement representing a sigificant achievement by Grey County and the Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus driven by five years of advocacy and leadership in building #broadbandforeveryone.
On February 18, 2016, Grey County hosted the Second Annual Warden's Breakfast, which gives local business and community leaders the opportunity to network with elected officials and County staff as well as learn more about progress towards economic development goals. In 2016, the Connected County project was front and centre as a central focus of promoting community and economic developmnet for Grey County.
Working with an extensive list of community partners, local experts and industry champions, we gathered data and stories about Grey County's current progress toward becoming an intelligent community and submitted an application to the Intelligent Community Forum's Intelligent Community of the Year Awards Program.
Our co-signatories to our 2015/2016 application included Warden Kevin Eccles, Gemma Mendez Smith, Executive Director of the Four County Labour Market Planning Board and Bill Van Wyck, President of The W.R. Van Wyck Group Limited.
The Smart 21 short list will be announced on October 21, 2015.
On May 5, 2015, Grey County joined the global Open Data movement by launching its own Open Data Portal at OpenData.Grey.ca
Through the online portal, Grey County will publish datasets in an accessible format so that information is machine readable and easily analyzed, while maintaining protections for personal privacy, security and confidentiality (as specified under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990).
“The County has created a vast amount of useful facts and statistics and we’re excited to start making this data more easily accessible and useable for interested members of our community,” said Director of IT, Geoff Hogan.
On November 7, 2014, Grey County hosted a Master Class with Intelligent Community Forum co-founder Robert Bell. Over 80 local leaders and community stakeholders participated in a very interactive session, producing a broad range of ideas for moving Grey County forward towards becoming an intelligent community.
Recommendations on immediate and future next steps regarding these strategic areas have been collected from community input provided at the Master Class, as well as actions listed in the implementation plan for the Made in Grey Economic Development Strategy. These action items have been matched with high-level metrics suggested by the ICF for communities to self-evaluate their efforts to become more connected and intelligent and outlined in the Connected County work-plan, which will be tabled to County Council in October 2015.
In April 2013, Cisco was hired to perform a Smart and Connected Communities (S+CC) diagnostic exercise and develop a high level service strategy for Grey County. Cisco completed a series of in-person interviews and surveys with stakeholders across Grey County. Completing the S+CC process established Grey County as the first community to be analyzed as part of the South West Economic Alliance (SWEA) Intelligent Region project, which worked with communities across Southwestern Ontario to complete the benchmarking study piloted here in Grey County.
As a starting point, the County took part in an initial qualitative assessment of our readiness to compete globally, using an assessment tool created by i-Canada called, the i-CAT; short for Intelligent Community Assessment Tool. This was a pilot project, paid for by SWEA, to explore the merits and local applicability of the Intelligent Community development framework.
Some 50 people from different sectors across Grey County were invited to complete the survey in May 2012, representing government, business, community services, health care, education and the general public. Results were considered typical for a rural area. I-Canada did suggest however, that Grey County is in a better starting position than most other similar municipalities analysed in Ontario to date. Participants ranked Grey highly for the environment, quality of life, finances and smart utilities. More information can be found in former CAO Lance Thurston's report "Towards Creating an Intelligent Region."
Local Leaders Connecting Grey County
Warden Barfoot has been a Grey County Councillor since 2004. He was Chair of the Transportation and Public Safety Committee from 2010-2012 and again from 2014-2015 and has sat on multiple committees during his term. He entered municipal government as a Councillor for the former Derby Township in 1991 and was elected Mayor of Georgian Bluffs in the fall of 2006. Barfoot recently retired from Parmalat Canada and lives near Kilsyth with his wife, Karen. They have four children and three grandchildren.
Kim Wingrove is Grey County’s Chief Administrative Officer. She has a keen interest in utilizing information technology to improve public service, community and economic development. Prior to joining the County, Kim was CAO for the municipalities of Guelph/Eramosa and Collingwood. At the Province of Ontario, she held a number of senior positions including Director responsible for Regional Economic Development Programming, Rural Programs and Information Technology Client Services. She has served on several provincial and regional boards including seven years with the Economic Developers Council of Ontario, and two years with RTO7, the regional tourism development organization for Simcoe, Grey and Bruce counties. Kim has Information Technology, Audit, Human Resources Development and Dispute Resolution certifications as well as a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Arts from the University of Guelph.
Lance Thurston is the President and CEO of Grey Bruce Health Services, overseeing six hospitals in our region with 1,600 staff, 200 physicians and a payroll in excess of $100 million. As health-care leads the way with technological innovations, GBHS plays an important role in moving Grey County toward it's goal of becoming a Connected County. With over 25 years of senior public sector experience, Lance has a Master's degree in urban and regional planning from Queen's University and is known throughout the region for his collaborative leadership approach and his ability to build strong relationships with the communities that he serves. Previous to his appointment to Grey Bruce Health Services, Lance served as CAO of Grey County (2010-2014). During his time as CAO, Lance was the driving force behind pursuing an intelligent community model for the County and a regional leader in championing the Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus SWIFT Initiative. Lance's leadership lead to Grey County piloting a Smart+Connected Communities benchmarking process with Cisco Canada and serving as a vital part of the SouthWest Economic Alliance (SWEA) Intelligent Region Initiative.
For over 30 years, Bill Van Wyck has been involved in entrepreneurial pursuits from printing to boat building and from manufacturing dog shampoo to property management. He has a proven track record in private enterprise, from initiating startups to leading bankruptcy turn-arounds. A committed community building, Bill is Past Chair of Georgian College’s Board of Governors, Past Member of the Governors' Advisory Committee of Colleges Ontario, and a +25 year volunteer and twice President of the YMCA Owen Sound Grey Bruce, acting in a key leadership role in five major community projects, including the Grey Bruce Regional Health Centre, Owen Sound Billy Bishop Regional Airport, the OSCVI Auditoriam, and the Owen Sound Family Y and July McArthur Regional Recreation Centre.
Since 2001, Gemma Mendez Smith has been the Executive Director of the Four County Labour Market Planning Board, which plans and promotes local labour market strategies to meet the challenges of a changing economy across Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth Counties. Enthusiastic and engaged, Gemma is a community builder and actively involved in many economic and community development initiatives across the region. She is a Distinguished Toastmaster, a Busisness Retention + Extension International member (and involved with several BR+E projects within Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth Counties), and a strategic planning and workshop facilitator.
Jacinda Rudolph is the Project Manager for the Launch Pad Youth Activity and Technology Centre in Hanover, Ontario. She joined the team at the Launch Pad after she and her partner decided to move with their two children to be closer to their extended families in Ontario after studying and working in Halifax for 12 years. Growing up in rural Ontario, Jacinda understands the opportunities and challenges for engaging youth in meaningful and rewarding programming. She brings her experience in community development, her passion and desire to build a vibrant, engaged and energetic community to Launch Pad and the greater community in Grey County. The work undertaken by Jacinda and her team at Launch Pad provides skill development opportunities, fosters healthy community connections and builds a stronger economy for our youth and for the entire region. Launch Pad’s mission is to invest in our youth, encourage their curiosity, and appreciate their talents, energy, and vibrancy . A lifelong engaged citizen and volunteer and the mother of two small children, Jacinda’s personal, educational, and professional experience are uniquely suited to progressing the Centre to this meaningful goal.
Since 2004, Geoff Hogan has lead Grey County's IT Department. As the Director of IT, Geoff leads a small, agile IT department of 12 people that manages the County's technology infrastructure, GIS services, rural broadband initatives and the Connected County project. Geoff and his team provide two valuable roles to the organization: a stable technology platform (the utility side of the business) and enable business transformation with the effective use of technology (the innovation side of the business). Geoff also acts as one of the key staff leads of the Western Ontario Warden's Caucus broadband initiative, SWIFT (SouthWest Integrated Fibre Technology Network) and sits on the board of MISA (Municipal Information Systems Association) in the position of Past President and and the Centre for Business (Community Futures Collingwood) Board as Vice Chair.
Ashleigh Weeden is a collaborative community builder and community engagement practitioner who works with local governments and agencies to open things up so everyone can play. Ashleigh earned her MPA from the University of Victoria in 2010 and has spent the last 5 years promoting positive, transformational change in communities across Ontario through facilitating greater citizen and stakeholder engagement in service design and decision making. For the last two years, Ashleigh has supported Grey County's Connected County Initiative and the Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus' SWIFT (SouthWest Integrated Fibre Technology) initiatve.
Philly Markowitz serves as Grey County's Economic Development Officer for Local Food, where she offers business support, education, networking and marketing opportunities for area farms, food processors, farm markets, retailers and restaurants. Philly is actively involved in supporting entrepreneurial development in Grey County's ag+food sector, assisting with the creation of a food hub in Grey County and with food-related curriculum development and culinary tourism development. She also managed the system development, content creation and digital asset management for Grey County Tourism's new website. Philly is a key partner in the Ag 4.0 Summit + Innovation Tour development, coordinating the Innovation Tour and collaborating with the Connected County initiative in developing this exciting initiative.
Get In Touch
- Ashleigh Weeden, Connected County Initiative
- 519-372-0219 ext 1255