Kristina Verner, R&D officer at the Centre for Smart Community Innovation (CSCI) in Windsor, Ont., remembers well the call she received last May from Ontario’s Minister of International Trade and Investment requesting the moon.
Specifically, MPP Sandra Pupatello had an idea she wanted to see online.
One of her staff members had been thinking about the massive construction project just starting in the area – a new bridge connecting Windsor with Detroit, Mich. over the Detroit River. The minister’s staff member pointed out that the new border crossing would require tearing down 400 houses and commercial buildings. All of the demo materials were destined for the scrap yard.
Some of the buildings were fairly new. What if there was a way to salvage the material to enable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity to reuse items like windows, plumbing parts and cabinetry in new housing projects?
“How can you say no to such a great idea?” Verner said in an interview at Lotusphere, IBM Corp.’s technology conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. in early-February. “We’d just had the tornadoes in Leamington. There were homeowners desperately in need of materials. It just made sense.”
The Minister liked the idea too. But she wanted to get a website up and running to facilitate the process – to list what was needed, what was available, and who needed it.
Pupatello’s office had already decided the story would go out with a press release scheduled to hit the news wires in two days; this sophisticated site would need to be operational in 48 hours.