Calgary launches digital currency to promote small business
The city of Calgary became the first in Canada this week to offer its own digital currency, the Calgary Digital Dollar. Alberta’s minister of finance Joe Ceci unveiled the currency by buying a round of coffee using the dedicated app, Global News Canada reports.
The Calgary Digital Dollar is part of an initiative to promote the growth of small businesses and non-profit organisations throughout the city. The currency functions through a dedicated native application. Users can search for participating businesses through the app. In turn the businesses can determine the percentage of a transaction (from 10% to 100%) they choose to accept in Calgary Digital Dollars.
The application will also serve as an alternative to classified advertising sites like Craigslist and Gumtree. According to Global News Canada, “users can sell items for Calgary Dollars then use the proceeds to buy from local businesses.”
The currency is also being promoted with several rewards programs operated by the city. Gerald Wheatley, manager at Calgary Dollars and the Arusha Centre, outlined several benefits to Global News Canada: “You get five Calgary dollars for the first five ads. It’s a lot better than other classified systems, you actually get paid to post on it.”
Also, Calgary Dollars earned as rewards will allow customers to pay for local transit tickets. The currency also grants a 10% cashback bonus when used at the Victoria Park Business Improvement Area.
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”