“Some elements of community policing will never change, but resources are limited, so we need to find new ways to respond to the problems that continue to impact our citizens, strain our healthcare services, and overflow our criminal justice system,” says Police Chief Dale McFee.
“We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different outcome. We need to think differently, act differently, and take some risks if we want to see real results for the vulnerable people in the community.”
The Community Solutions Accelerator (CSA) is a ground-breaking new approach to public safety and well-being modelled on business applications that combine amalgamated data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve complex problems.
Using available data from a variety of sources, the CSA will focus on the interconnected challenges affecting Edmonton such as crime, addictions, homelessness, and mental health.
The data will be a roadmap for change, and while the solutions will benefit the safety and well-being of Edmontonians, they could potentially be applied to other communities across the country and around the world facing similar challenges.
“The CSA is an exciting venture with a lot of promise because it utilizes a very creative and different way of looking at problems that has yielded significant advances in other industries,” says Ashif Mawji, Chair of the Edmonton Police Foundation (EPF), who has helped to mobilize corporate interest and investment in the project and develop a governance model.
“This will be the first time that the entrepreneurial spirit in research and development will be harnessed to turn community challenges into opportunities for sustainable solutions. This is expected to provide numerous opportunities for commercial development and employment as well.”
Through the stewardship of the EPF, the CSA has attracted the talent and technology of corporate partners who share the vision of making Edmonton and Alberta safer, including the University of Alberta, ATB Financial, TELUS, and Motorola Solutions Canada.
Depending on the scope of the initiatives, partners will contribute numerous resources such as funding, lab space, IT infrastructure, technical support, research expertise, marketing and mentorship.
“TELUS is committed to leveraging our world-leading technology to enable remarkable human outcomes through safer, healthier communities,” says Jason Macdonnell, President of Security and Automation at TELUS. “We have long partnered with the Edmonton Police Service to ensure those that protect our communities have access to next-generation technology, and we are excited to strengthen that relationship as a founding partner of the Community Solutions Accelerator. Alongside the EPS and fellow founding partners, we look forward to delivering solutions to help create a brighter future for all Edmontonians.”
“Motorola Solutions has over 70 years of experience working with public safety agencies across Canada,” says George Krausz, President of Motorola Solutions Canada. “As a member of the Community Solutions Accelerator program, our experts in human-centered design and innovation will help prototype and evaluate solutions designed to enhance the community’s safety and well-being. We’re proud to be a part of this initiative with the Edmonton Police Service, TELUS and local organizations that will make a positive impact across Alberta.”
“This initiative truly exemplifies the meaning of working together for the greater good, and the University is excited to be part of the team,” says Matthais Ruth, Vice-President Research and Innovation, University of Alberta. “As research leaders in health, artificial intelligence, machine learning and social sciences, the accelerator is one more way we can employ our expertise and knowledge to develop new and innovative ways to improve public health and safety. The Community Solutions Accelerator also provides a place where our innovators can deploy Alberta-made technologies and solutions to solve challenges that have been identified in our communities.”
“At ATB Financial, our customers are our neighbours, our friends and our families,” says President and CEO, Curtis Stange. “Their success is our success and their struggles are ours too. That is why we relish every chance we get to strengthen our communities by supporting causes that make a real difference. We are excited to be a founding partner in the Community Solutions Accelerator as we search out innovative ways to identify and solve society's ongoing issues – and contribute to the greater good of Alberta.”
Because of the collaborative nature of the CSA and the sharing of large volumes of data, research initiatives will be ethical, transparent, and compliant with privacy legislation.
The CSA is believed to be the first of its kind in North America and will pioneer a human-centred and holistic approach to policing and community safety. It will be evaluated on how well its solutions mitigate harm to individuals and diminish criminal activities.
Chief Dale McFee adds, “We cannot solve anything in isolation. The Community Solutions Accelerator is driven entirely by the collaboration of our various communities and the data that is available.”
“Think about the diversity of ideas from all these different organizations, and what we can do when we work together and focus on the outcomes. This is our opportunity to make a quantum leap in policing, and to take community safety and wellness into the next century.”