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TELUS Insights Data for Good case study - City of Surrey

Aug 23, 2021


In June of 2020, the City of Surrey began utilizing the COVID-19 Data for Good Physical Distancing report from TELUS Insights to help protect its 500,000+ population as the city navigates the current global pandemic. The report provides key metrics and real-world indicators of how people in Surrey respond to the Coronavirus pandemic public health orders. The city partnered with TELUS to leverage their big data analytics approach, which generally helps municipalities be more proactive when planning different community life aspects. The COVID-19 Data for Good Physical Distancing report helps the city understand how to better manage its workforce, assets, and budget of essential services during the pandemic.

Client: City of Surrey

Industry: COVID-19 response - Municipality case study

Principals/stakeholders: Stephen Wu, EOC Advanced Planning Lead; Vincent Lalonde, Director of the EOC; Larry Thomas, Fire Chief/Deputy Director of the EOC; Ansel Schmidt, Product Manager, TELUS; Kevin Laleyan, Sales Specialist, TELUS Insights | Big Data

The situation

Located in British Columbia, Surrey is one of Canada's fastest-growing cities and rapidly emerging as a smart city, focusing on improving its citizens' quality of life while enhancing the city's infrastructure by using different types of technology. Until June of 2020, the city could only receive reports on COVID case numbers in the Fraser Valley. They did not have information at the municipality level, which only provided them with a fraction of the big picture. They needed to understand how citizens and tourists from other parts of the world are congregating in their city. City officials could then compare how the pandemic has impacted social activity and gather insight into the connectivity between travelling to and from different municipalities and provinces. 

The TELUS experience

The solution

In mid-February, as a response to the global Coronavirus pandemic, the City of Surrey activated an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to ensure essential services such as water, policing and re, sewage, and health-related services were maintained. These measures accounted for keeping their citizens and visitors safe and meant that the city needed to be proactive and make sure each of their front-line responders was also protected from the virus so they could continue to help support these key city service departments. The report provided information associated with the city's tourist and citizen counts, including congregation patterns and duration, where visitors are coming from, and popular destinations for people throughout the city based on certain times of the year, contributing to potential risk areas and event patterns.

Our city officials are adamant about reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and it is obvious that the TELUS Insights team supports this cause. With more timely and relevant data, we can ensure that our most critical services, such as hospitals, police, and emergency responders, operate at the appropriate capacity. Our citizens are counting on us to keep the city moving, and leveraging data intelligence is one of the fastest ways we can do that.

- Larry Thomas, Fire Chief/Deputy Director of the EOC

The outcome

By working with the TELUS Insights team, the City of Surrey can reveal critical metrics associated with de-identified population movement patterns and effectively track high-risk areas and events such as congregation hotspots. The Deputy Director presents the EOC report, which comprises senior city officials in an on-going weekly EOC virtual meeting. The Mayor and Council also receive a copy of the report through a memo from the Deputy Director. With several months of data already reported, Surrey's city officials are better positioned to understand future infrastructure needs, supporting multiple city efforts such as healthcare, emergency services, and public transit. Leveraging the TELUS Insights data, officials now can reference historical data associated with infection rate patterns, and the impact of remote working and travel and tourism within the city. With several months of data already reported, the city of Surrey can predict future infrastructure and essential service’s needs, such as where and when they will ramp up for additional healthcare. Leveraging the TELUS Insights data, officials have been able to re-allocate resources and ensure that front-line workers maintain safe response practices and are well protected.