Given the scale of the climate challenges we face, cities of all sizes will have to switch to smarter, more sustainable forms of mobility. However, the challenges are different for small- and medium-sized cities than for larger urban centers. IVÉO, a nonprofit organization created two years ago in Longueuil, puts its innovation expertise to work for municipalities looking for cost-effective ways to transition.
Specializing in cutting-edge mobility technology, IVÉO, in partnership with a network of 22 municipalities, tests innovative transportation solutions in real environments to meet the specific needs of small- and medium-sized cities.
“The municipalities we work with don’t have the resources to deal with the complexity of new technology,” explains Benoit Balmana, CEO of IVÉO. “Our role is to help them get to know and understand existing innovations and identify solutions that meet their needs.”
Many new technologies have been developed in recent years to enable small and medium-sized cities to adopt greener, safer, more fluid transportation solutions through such things as new infrastructure, optimized municipal fleets, and public transit models better suited to smaller communities. IVÉO’s role is to help municipalities find and use technology tailored to their needs and their particular situations.
Contrary to a widely held belief, there is no need to start from scratch and replace an entire vehicle fleet to be innovative and optimize fleet use. More cost-effective solutions are already available. For example, the Quebec company Ecotuned converts light- and medium-duty gas- or diesel-powered vehicles into electric vehicles by modifying their engines. Another company, Effenco, has developed a technology for powering certain accessories on vocational trucks to eliminate engine use when the vehicles are stationary.
Other solutions consist of avoiding the use of heavy vehicles when lighter vehicles fit the bill. For example, Concept GeeBee in Sherbrooke has designed a light electric vehicle that is well adapted to certain tasks. Another idea is smart optimization of garbage collection routes. If municipal garbage containers are equipped with small sensors to measure how full they are, routes can be rearranged to bypass empty containers.
“These are relatively simple solutions, and they were developed by Quebec businesses,” added Balmana. “We work to educate municipalities in Quebec about this development potential and show them that innovating can be easier than they think.”
IVÉO’s goal is to take a series of small actions that together make a big impact. It’s likely that the number of cities interested in working with it will grow over the coming years.
Photo credits : Matthew Henry from Burst