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Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management

LNC Designs & Delivers MBA Capstone Course on Building Smart Communities

  • Feb 11, 2021
LNC Designs & Delivers MBA Capstone Course on Building Smart Communities

Lawrence National Centre delivers MBA 2021 Capstone Course

Aimed at increasing the wellbeing of its citizens, streamline the delivery of services, and further strengthen the local economy, ‘smart communities’ can drive regional socio-economic development in today’s turbulent global environment. COVID-19 has intensified this mission, highlighting the need to accelerate investments in smart infrastructure to reinvigorate local economies and build back better. However, creating actionable smart solutions for communities involves complex challenges, including, managing a variety of stakeholders holding a variety of perspectives, utilizing new and emerging technologies—such as 5G, IoT, and Big Data, and ensuring privacy and security of personal data. The process involves many moving pieces and, most importantly, rigorous citizen engagement. With the emergence of smart communities around the world, policy makers in Canada are faced with the critical choice to embrace a smarter, digital future for our communities or be left behind.

Motivated by the significant opportunities and challenges of implementing ‘smart’ infrastructure programs, the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management developed and delivered the MBA 2021 Capstone Course, GLOBE, with an emphasis on building smart communities.  GLOBE focuses on connecting Ivey’s soon-to-be MBA graduates with a current global phenomenon or challenge—one that is important from the perspective of not only managers but also as citizens of the communities where they live. More than any other course in the MBA program, GLOBE is about developing actionable ideas – with a broader goal of enabling students to see their actions as future leaders from the largest possible vantage point.

The topic of smart communities fits squarely within the scope of GLOBE as there are both global and local implications of policy decisions. The Lawrence National Centre’s Director, Professor Romel Mostafa, designed the course and guided students as they learned about the importance of digital and supporting infrastructures, policy considerations for building smart infrastructure, managing multiple stakeholders, as well as smart city and campus for tomorrow initiatives. In addition to studying cases and conducting research, students learned about smart city initiatives from a variety of speakers and subject matter experts. Over seven sessions, students heard from guest speakers representing several broad discipline areas, including business, economics, law and public policy. Invited speakers included:

  • Stephen Beatty, Global Chairman, KPMG
  • Guy Holburn, Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, Ivey Business School
  • Michael Lindsey, CEO, Infrastructure Ontario
  • Mahmood Nanji, Policy Fellow, Lawrence National Centre
  • Ontario Centre of Innovation
    • Michele Davies, Director, Partnerships Development
    • Jeff van Heumen, Business Development and Commercialization Manager
    • Philippa King, Director, Digital Economy Technologies
  • Peter Wilcox, Director, IoT, 5G and Smart City Solutions at Bell


Action-based solutions

Last summer, Western announced a partnership with Bell, creating an advanced 5G research centre to accelerate innovation and utilize new technologies for a ‘campus of tomorrow.’ Capitalizing on this innovative partnership, a final group project was assigned. Students were tasked to leverage the course materials, speaker insights, readings and research to create actionable smart solutions that address a set of challenges faced by the Western community. Each group was assigned one of seven focus areas to guide their work and develop a pitch:

  • Learning experience
  • Health and nutrition
  • Housing and mobility
  • Campus resource and waste management
  • Security and emergency responses
  • Extra-curricular activities and social connectedness
  • Career management and alumni relations

Groups created a video pitch and written report outlining their challenge statement, along with an actionable solution utilizing smart applications. Pitches described concrete ways to implement the proposed solution, ultimately contributing to a ‘campus of tomorrow.’ Actionable ideas included: a health and wellness application with integrated data collection for campus resources; Campus safety app to connect students with a walk home buddy, police reporting and emergency alert detection; A wearable device and application to connect students with mental health supports on campus; and smart parking infrastructure with supporting applications.

In all, 162 students in 24 groups presented video pitches, providing insights and inspiration to the Western Community.