SWIFT member community Grey County was named to the Intelligent Community Forums Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2017 this February, in large part in recognition of Grey County’s leadership in rural broadband and with a nod to the County’s recent work in supporting innovative technology in agriculture.
Agriculture and the food industry are Grey County’s largest employers and contributors to the local GDP. As in many rural communities, however, the county’s producers are facing many challenges, from competition from lower-priced imports to ever-increasing land values. The Ag 4.0 initiative is Grey County’s answer: a project aimed at connecting agricultural producers with local technical and creative professionals to promote collaboration and innovation. The initiative also seeks to support the development of a generation of rural innovators among local youth, hoping to apply their skills as “digital natives” to the requirements of “digital agriculture.”
The Ag 4.0 initiative has sparked new working relationships – and renewed old ones – with many key stakeholders and champions of the issue, including the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Georgian College, the University of Guelph, Grey—Ag Services, and Grey County’s member municipalities. To formalize these collaborations, Grey County hosted its first Ag 4.0 Summit and Innovation Tour in November 2016, providing opportunities for producers to learn from agricultural innovators and connect with professionals from other related creative and technological fields.
The future looks bright in Grey County as farmers step into the digital world with the help of their technically-skilled neighbors and local youths train to become the next generation of innovators.
SWIFT is also proud that member community Sarnia-Lambton was recognized by the Intelligent Community Forum being one of the Smart21 Communities of 2017. #broadbandforeveryone means our communities can compete on the global stage!