IFTTT - Automating Edmonton to Improve Community Engagement & Educate Residents

Edmonton works with Edmonton Public Schools, Beta City and IFTTT partners to explore how to use basic rules to integrate various digital services with physical devices.

ARTICLE | Mar 1, 2018

nextERA Voice

by David Rauch, Strategic Planner, City of Edmonton, AB
Edmonton IFTTT

The City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is working with the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB), a local civic technology community, Beta City, and connected tech company, IFTTT to make the digital physical with a first-of-its-kind partnership in Canada.

Smart Light Bulbs as Air Quality Displays

The first initiative of this partnership integrates local air quality data with smart light bulbs. The City wants to raise student and citizen awareness of Edmonton’s air quality, which can reach levels which are a health concern. so Edmonton is going to be first city in Canada to use the IFTTT platform (which stands for "if this, then that") to allow anyone to connect their Wi-Fi-enabled light bulbs to provincial air quality data.


The color of the bulbs will change with air quality every half hour based on provincial air quality data, and a large light installation (inspired by an initiative in Paris — see first photo)) is planned for City Hall for Clean Air Day in June 2018. Also, anyone with a Philips Hue or LIFX  Wi-Fi light will be able to connect their bulb to the streaming service in just a few clicks and receive notifications if they would like.

(What the IFTTT “applet” looks like for the integration)

Innovative Partnerships

Additionally, City staff are going to conduct a pilot in one of Edmonton Public’s schools with the intent to get the lights in various science classrooms throughout the city. Only two other cities have partnered with IFTTT — see how Louisville, Kentucky plans to take advantage of the service, which makes receiving notifications of City services very easy across devices and platforms.

This is an innovative partnership is a great example of citizen co-creation that embodies the recent Council Initiative of Public Engagement, which encourages including citizens and partners to develop and build solutions together to achieve the City’s goals.


Further Exploration of IFTTT

The City is exploring how it can further use the IFTTT platform, which is designed to integrate various digital services, to get information to citizens when and how they want it, including traffic disruptions, building permits, and public 311 requests throughout the city or just in the neighborhoods where they work, live, or through which they travel. The City is exploring a variety of tools for notifications including the citizen-deployed, open-source CityGram and Socrata’s recent Citizen Connect. Citizens can choose whether to receive SMS/text updates, emails, or other social media platforms to receive the information. This is a powerful tool to allow citizens to customize their relationship with the City’s information, and allowing a personalized approach to information sharing is an important digital principle to the City.

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