Carleton University announced on Monday a nine-year, $1.8-million partnership with Cisco Canada that will see the university establish a new Research Chair in Sensor Technology for the Internet of Things.
Mohamed Ibnkahla, who has spent the last 15 years at Queen’s University, has been appointed to the new role.
“The Internet of Things will allow us to see our world and to make our world smarter. It will transform the way we live,” Mr. Ibnkahla told those gathered for the announcement at the university’s Tory Building.
Mr. Ibnkahla said his work will be centred around connecting sensors and “making them smart.
“Because a sensor is not actually very good if it is not connected. However, if it is connected, it will bring innovation to people, it will help people in many areas of our society,” he said.
Mr. Ibnkahla said cities will become smarter as they begin to monitor everything from energy consumption and water control to garbage collection and snow removal.
“(The) whole concept of city governments … will completely change with the Internet of Things,” he said.
Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson said the City of Ottawa already has sensors in its roads.
“They decide how much salt to put on the roads by those sensors,” she said. “So we’re already doing some of that but the more that’s available, the better it is.”
Carleton president Roseann O’Reilly Runte said that while there is plenty of talk of smarter cities, she thinks the new research chair will make help people smarter too.
“Consider this one step on the ladder to the future, building a better understanding of collaboration and communication with the world,” she said.
Cisco Canada president Bernadette Wightman noted this isn’t the first collaboration between her company and Carleton. She said the school’s Canal Building was the first in the world to use Cisco’s smart converged building model.
“Which is a very long mouthful for saying it’s really smart,” she said.
Ms. Wightman said while many people would argue we already live in a connected world, there is still much more that can be done.
“We may already think we live in a hyperconnected world … but one per cent of the things that can be connected are connected,” she said.
In fact, a recent Cisco study determined the IoT will drive $14.3 trillion of net value globally over the next decade, with $400 billion of that coming in Canada alone.
“The Internet of Things has the opportunity to transform every single industry, every business, every city and every country,” she said. “The path to digitization is hugely reliant on research and innovation, precisely the type of research and innovation that (Dr. Ibnkahla) is doing. Canada has an opportunity to lead and take a key role in digital disruption and creating a thriving environment that will benefit all Canadians.”
It will also benefit the local tech industry, said Invest Ottawa CEO Bruce Lazenby.
“One of the things we’re going to be doing a lot more of is helping universities connect with local businesses,” he said. “We’ve got over 1,700 technology companies here and almost all of them have some element of Internet of Things or sensor technology.”