The knitting together of this vast country with high-speed internet just got a step closer to reality with the awarding of a $3.39-million federal contract to a graduate of Waterloo’s tech ecosystem.
Ecopia is using its AI-based mapping systems to mine GPS and GIS datasets to find the connectivity gaps in broadband infrastructure across rural Canada, including many remote and Indigenous communities. Their findings will help quicken the implementation of broadband service from coast to coast to coast.
Although the contract was just announced this week, the 50-member, Toronto-based HD mapping company is already working on the broadband project, expected to be delivered in March.
Ecopia has a long-standing connection with Waterloo Region, from being created as part of a PhD project at the University of Waterloo, to several years of development at Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre and partnering with Communitech, the University of Waterloo’s Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research and Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation, the key partners in HD mapping and localization for Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN).
Although Ecopia has focused on HD mapping for global transportation networks, this new contract shows the potential use cases for the company’s HD mapping platforms.
In a news release, Ecopia co-founder and President Jon Lipinski said, “Ecopia's mission is to create a digital representation of the real world to drive enhanced decision-making – in this case, we are delivering foundational information which will support an effort of national importance – bridging the digital divide across Canada.”
The “remote by default” work environments that many employers adopted during the past two years of the pandemic have shown the gaps in Canada’s high-speed internet connectivity, with more than half of rural communities still not having access to broadband service. Ecopia’s work will help paint a clearer picture of those gaps, using current mapping data.
This recent federal contract is another success for the homegrown Ecopia, which has been developed since 2013 without the need for venture capital.