Innovation That Matters

Users can ask this ‘Siri for cities’ app municipal queries


My Surrey is an app that integrates IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence to enable users to ask questions about their city using natural language.

Cities are becoming increasingly smarter with the help of municipal technology. In New York, smart trash bins are offering citywide Wi-Fi, and road signs in Sydney are now run with solar-powered e-paper. Purple Forge Corp — a provider of community engagement and self-service solutions to government and enterprises — has now partnered with IBM Watson to develop My Surrey, an app where citizens of Surrey, British Columbia, can input questions and receive evidence-based answers regarding their city.

Watson QA’s ability to process and understand natural language means it is able to learn answers to FAQs users may have regarding city services — how to make a noise complaint or inquire about garbage collection, for example. This reduces the time, effort and costs of calling up and speaking to a representative. It also adds convenience, as rather than trawling through search engine results, users can ask the app questions much like they would to Apple’s Siri. My Surrey also has information on job opportunities, recreational activities, animal control, transportation, questions such as how to contest a parking ticket, and more. It works by building on existing knowledge, and will improve as more citizens use it.


Surrey, BC is the first to pilot this app, which is available on the Blackberry App World, Google Play, and the App Store. Could this become the norm for future smart cities?



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