April 2021, 8th to 11th

Ivéo: Mobility Initiatives for Mid-Sized Cities in Canada

Sherbrooke, Plessisville, and Shawinigan are Canadian cities currently benefiting from preferential treatment thanks to IVÉO, a body that deals with mobility issues inherent in medium-sized cities. Ahead of attending inOut2020 in Rennes a few months from now, IVÉO’s chief executive, Benoit Balmana, talks about the originality of the organisation, and a few of its pilot projects.

Directly inspired by inOut

Launched in 2018 by the Quebec Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation and the Quebec Ministry of Municipal Affairs, IVÉO is a catalyst for innovation in mobility funded by the State and partner municipalities. Before IVÉO, Quebec’s R&D in mobility solutions was focused on large cities, mid-sized cities being largely excluded from the innovation ecosystem. “We’re setting up trial projects to meet the needs of municipalities based on inOut”, explains Benoit Balmana, chief executive at IVÉO.

capture d'écran du site ivéoUse of drones for municipal services, river shuttles, electric mobility, and intelligent and predic-tive parking: in Quebec, there are almost 30 pilot projects currently being conducted by IVÉO. Further details are available here with this interactive map

Common features and specificities

When we talk about mid-sized cities, we mean municipalities on the outskirts of big cities as well as urban areas that are more remote. The same challenges exist on both sides of the Atlan-tic, with commuting trips and single car occupancy heading the list. Quebec’s small and mid-sized cities regularly discuss these common considerations with their French counterparts, in particular via the International Summit On Innovation In Mid-Sized Cities (SIIViM) hosted by the city of Nevers in France and Shawinigan in Quebec. The considerable distances that need to be covered and a public transport network that is far less developed than in France are features that are particular to Quebec and the reason why private car use is highly prevalent. The climate also creates road-travel problems for municipalities, especially during the winter months.

capture écran tableau de bord prévision météoExample of a pilot project led by IVÉO: using data from strategically positioned weather sta-tions, this control panel can be used to accurately forecast weather conditions and prioritise road operations.

Network, network, and networks

In Sherbrooke, IVÉO is supporting a project aimed at ‘obtaining an accurate overview of road conditions for optimising winter maintenance operations’ including more efficient snow and ice clearing and spraying operations. As for car sharing, experiments currently tak-ing place are not technical, “they’re primarily focused on altering behaviour; we’re look-ing for clever ideas that will encourage people to use this type of service,” Benoit Balmana points out. Plessisville is testing a project under which municipal vehicles are made available for private use outside the working hours of municipality staff.

SAUVeR, un véhicule d'autopartage à PlessisvilleOne of the vehicles available for private use under the municipal car-sharing project in Plessisville.

capture écran projet pilote détectant les obstacles sur la routeExample of a visual overview obtained through the ‘Digital Twin City’ pilot project de-signed for evaluating conditions and collecting information remotely, thus reducing the cost (environmental and financial) of data collection in towns.

The network created by IVÉO allows cities to share the results of all its pilot projects, which in turn makes it easier for the most effective solutions to be deployed elsewhere. IVÉO’s chief executive believes that the variety of partners in the network is one of its strengths, as it enables it “to test technologies in almost every context imaginable.” To find out more about IVÉO’s experiments and mobility solutions in Quebec, head for in-Out in May 2020 to hear Benoit Balmana’s presentation at one of the [IN] sessions.

Audio interview (in french) with Benoit Balmana, chief executive at IVÉO

For more details, listen to an excerpt from the interview with Benoit Balmana in which you can learn about a highly original MaaS project in Victoriaville, and find out more about the challenges of conducting road trials in winter conditions.

Antoine Gouritin, Rennes-based journalist and explorer for inOut