While Toronto is beginning to get its act about startups, the city can do a better job of embracing innovation. The good news is it doesn’t have to look far to see what innovation looks like. Toronto’s parking authority, Green P, is showing the way to a user-friendly mobile app. Rather than having to pump coins or stick a credit card into a parking meter, the mobile app makes it a snap to get a ticket (and avoid the scourge of the relentless parking hornets!)
It is a delightful piece of technology that makes parking easier. It is the kind of innovation that Toronto should embrace as it roots around for more efficiencies, revenue sources and better ways to provide services. At a time when software is rapidly developed, tested and deployed, Toronto should be teeming with innovative technology. If the city wants to become a global startup community, it needs to talk the talk and walk the walk around innovation. Here a few places in which innovation should rule the day: TTC: While Presto takes more time and money than expected (surprise, surprise!), what about technology to print tickets at home rather than buying them at a TTC station? There are times when I want to purchase a day-pass but have to pay for the bus so I can buy a day pass at a station. Parking: While you can buy daily or weekly temporary parking passes online, what about being about purchases passes for one or two hours? It would generate more revenue for the city and, at the same time, let people parking legally. While I’m at it, what’s with the need to pay a “convenience fee” when paying online for a parking ticket? Shouldn’t I get a discount for paying online? Homeowner portal: How about one place to find all your services – taxes, parking, garbage, water, electricity, recreation programs, city councilor, local news, taxes, etc.? Every homeowner would have a “portal” for one-stop shopping. 311: How about being able to text 311 to provide information, videos, and photos about graffiti, dumping, roads, etc.? FUN: How about a better and easier way [mobile, anyone?] to register online for Toronto’s FUN programs. What are the other ways that Toronto could jump on the innovation bandwagon?
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