City of Vaughan

10/14/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/14/2021 08:02

Using technology that continues to 'wow'

Public Works innovations lead the way to a forward-thinking City

From water services to road maintenance and waste collection in parks to everything in between, the City of Vaughan's Public Works team is there. Providing quality services to citizens and businesses remains the priority, and the City has launched many technological innovations in Public Works to keep Vaughan moving.

Winter maintenance using Artificial Intelligence

The City uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, known as the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS), in its winter maintenance operations. It leverages weather forecasts, data from actual road conditions and Vaughan's operating best practices to recommend the best treatment for the City's roads and sidewalks. Vaughan was the first municipality in Canada to use this technology, which has since been adopted throughout Ontario. Additionally, the City received a 2021 Smart 50 Award and a 2021 E.A. Danby Award - Certificate of Merit for the Winter Maintenance AI System, further demonstrating how Vaughan continues to be a leader in forward-thinking solutions and innovations.

Although salt application is an important and necessary piece of keeping roads and motorists safe throughout Canada's winters, it can have an impact on the environment. In the past three winter seasons, the City reduced salt usage in winter operations by 30 per cent per operation with an average salt reduction of 100 tons per event and 4,000 tons per winter season. This led to an annual savings of approximately $400,000 due to better salt management. The City's AI technology also allowed for better visibility into road treatments up to 24 hours in advance - this gave staff the ability to plan and advise the Mayor and Members of Council and the community with greater certainty on how the City will respond to a winter event. This innovation has positively affected environmental and fiscal sustainability and, most importantly, enhanced the citizen experience.

Garbage bin sensors

To combat garbage bin overflow, which can lead to litter in parks, the City has leveraged a new technological approach to help keep the community clean, safe and beautiful. Garbage bin sensors, piloting in Wards 4 and 5, are placed under the lids of select waste bins allowing staff to monitor the fill-levels remotely and receive notifications when they need to be emptied. The sensors use real-time and historical data to optimize waste collection schedules along routes, allowing staff to save on fuel, labour and fleet maintenance. The route optimization within this tool also allows for fewer trucks out driving, which means fewer carbon emissions, less noise, less traffic and less wear and tear on roads. Even more, they help to reduce overflowing waste bins, which often leads to litter on streets and in parks.

Since the launch in the summer of 2021, the City has installed 60 sensors in parks and has reduced the average distance traveled to empty waste bins in parks to 42 kilometres from 51 kilometres. Additionally, 6,860 litres of garbage has been collected from the outfitted cans, reducing the amount of overflow in bins and litter in parks.

Smart Hydrants

In 2020, the City of Vaughan installed five Smart Hydrant kits as a pilot project. The devices provide the City with useful insights into the water system, such as drops in pressure, acoustic data, temperature information and more. The Smart Hydrant kits have real-time system monitoring, data storage and analytics to identify potential leaks within infrastructure and their locations while generating alerts to operations staff for follow-up actions in the field. This innovative technology allows for a proactive approach to addressing watermain breaks in areas in close proximity to the Smart Hydrant and have helped determine why citizens may have a drop in water pressure when their home falls within a specific area.

Other benefits include:

  • lower operating costs: fewer watermain breaks lead to a reduction in costly emergency repairs.
  • less water loss: fewer watermain breaks and a reduction in leaks leads to less water loss.
  • improvement in water services: fewer watermain breaks lead to fewer emergency shutdowns and minimizes interruption to water services.

Currently, the City is working to secure 10 more Smart Hydrant kits to add to its infrastructure.

Anti-stagnation valves

The City is in the final stages of scheduling the installation of six additional anti-stagnation valves in the City's water distribution system, resulting in a total of 18 anti-stagnation valves. These valves strategically control the way water flows through the water distribution system, improving water quality and reducing pumping costs. Water Services can use software to remotely and automatically program the operation of the valves, reducing time, effort and non-revenue water loss.

The City's dedication to these initiatives is reflected in the city-building priorities of the Council-approved 2018-2022 Term of Council Service Excellence Strategic Plan. Enhancing operational performance and fostering a culture of continuous improvement is central to the mission of Vaughan's Public Works employees. Their achievements continue to receive national recognition for innovative thinking, the development of new best practices and a commitment to Service Excellence.

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