The B.C. cities of Coquitlam and Port Moody are developing their business infrastructures through a personalized Web portal built by Yahoo!.

The Smart Choices Community

portal is designed to integrate community, government and business services, along with content from Yahoo! like news, sports and weather. Right now, it’s a bare bones site, but the first layer of services will become available in late spring/early summer, said program manager George Vlassopoulos. “”(First) we need to have what we call critical mass in terms of the number of organizations that are involved in the program so we present . . . a good cross-section of all the different types of services.””

Yahoo! Enterprise Solutions personalization tools have been available to U.S. customers for just over a year, said Yahoo! Canada general manager Michael Zahra. Yahoo! has personalized government portals for North Carolina and Delaware, and provided intranet solutions for corporations such as Honeywell, Seagate Technology and Network Appliance.

Smart Choices is the first customer north of the border for the Yahoo! Enterprise Solutions division. The portal will be developed by Yahoo! Canada and will feature Canadian content, but Yahoo! Inc. will provide support. All of Yahoo!’s international portals are built on the same global platform developed by U.S. corporate parent Yahoo! Inc., said Zahra. Enterprise Solutions falls under Yahoo!’s business and consumer fees, which account for 20 per cent of the company’s global revenues, he added.

Once the Smart Choices portal is up and running, each community and business contributor will own and manage their own content, with Smart Choices overseeing the project as a whole. “”In essence, we become a facilitator of the services available to the community at large,”” said Vlassopoulos.

The portal is one of several IT initiatives underway for Coquitlam and Port Moody. Industry Canada estimates that the cities will double in size from the current population of 150,000 within 20 years. By building up the cities’ infrastructures, Industry Canada aims to develop their business communities and stem the flood of commuters that leave every day for nearby Vancouver. The entire Smart Choices project is expected to be completed sometime in 2004 and will include technology education and training services for citizens and businesses and a Smart Community and Business Centre. The centre “”will be available for business and community organizations to have access to Web technologies, e-commerce . . . it will be a gathering place for the community,”” said Vlassopoulos. Internet terminals will be available in the centre, as well as other highly trafficked areas like malls and libraries and even food banks and women’s shelters.

In addition to Yahoo!, Smart Choices has also partnered with Microsoft, Telus Enterprise Solutions and Sierra Systems Group.

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