Autonomous Vehicles Fueling Need for Smart Border Technologies

Thursday, November 2, 2017

AM800 CKLW/Zander Broeckel


The Windsor-Essex Development Corporation is looking to get ahead of the eight ball when it comes to 'smart borders'.

CEO Stephen MacKenzie says, with self-driving cars on the horizon, now is the time to start developing the technologies needed for international crossings.

WEEDC has applied for funding from Transport Canada to launch its five year long 'Smart and Connected Borders' project which will provide space for local entrepreneurs and tech companies to develop and test new software applications.

MacKenzie says it's important to be on the cutting edge.

"We have to anticipate technology. We have to anticipate the development and the innovation. We want to be ready. We want to do the research and we want to share the information and we want to make sure that when these vehicles are coming more on stream, commercial vehicles, that it doesn't create a thickening of the border because we're not set up, we're not ready to go."

He says Windsor-Essex needs to take advantage of its geographical location.

"What do we have that a lot of the other parts of the world don't have? We have an international border with two cities on each side. So it makes perfect sense for that to be our niche to develop the technology. Let's push innovation here. Let's be known for it. Let's develop the technology. Let's commercialize it. Let's create jobs with it."

MacKenzie says there's a number of factors at play.

"It's cyber security. It's interface. It's now the details and that's where we want to play a leading edge. There's always going to be innovation, there's always technology development, there's always disruption and if you're not ready for it or you're not planning or you're not abreast of it you'll be a victim of it."

MacKenzie adds, a handful of local organizations are on board with the program including the University of Windsor, St. Clair College, Workforce Windsor-Essex and WE-Tech Alliance.

WEEDC has applied for $10-million through the National Trade Corridors Fund and, if approved, the 'Smart and Connected Borders' project would get underway sometime next year.