Discover Ottawa

Discover Ottawa came out of the City of Ottawa’s Partnerships for Prosperity 5 year economic strategy.  One of the objectives of the economic strategy was to provide leadership to a diverse group of economic development organizations so that all worked collectively to deliver services to citizens and promote Ottawa to the world.

Discover Ottawa is a ground-breaking smartphone solution that has been developed through a partnership of Chamber of Commerce, 5 major local shopping centres, 17 Business Improvement Areas (BIA’s), Ottawa Tourism, Ottawa International Airport Authority, National Capital Commission, and the Ottawa Rural Tourist Authority.   Discover Ottawa continues to expand NGO project partners including local businesses and events organizations.

The economic development branch of the City of Ottawa led this initially through a series of inclusive meeting and 1-on-1 consensus building meetings, leading to more formal partnerships.

Discover Ottawa provides a mobile accessible and location-aware experience for visitors and citizens. It presents information that is “near” the user and likely of most relevance/interest. The rapid adoption of smartphone devices as a method to access information, and the widespread (and accelerating) adoption of smartphone devices by Canadians made the decision to deploy a smartphone solution a “no brainer”.

The bilingual app provides an integrated service to deliver interactive and engaging information to the public.   Using the app, any citizen or visitor can use to find out about airport arrival and departure schedules, find a restaurant, find what’s happening around the City of Ottawa.   Of note, the app makes it easy for content to be re-distributed and shared, which amplifies the City of Ottawa visibility to the world.

A key feature why the app is uniquely useful is that the provision of live feeds by all of the partners.  In particular, it includes events around Ottawa from an existing partnership from City of Ottawa, National Capital Commission, Ville du Gatineau – called “Spotlight”.

Another unique feature was the ability to let people create new content and share it with their friends and family – turning them all into advocates for the city!  A particularly popular feature in this regard was the “Create a Postcard” capability.

Collaborators were active in driving awareness of the application, including websites, eMail newsletters, print publications, website links and airport digital displays.

The app exceeded expectations in terms of adoption, usage and reception, some highlights:

  • #2 Featured “City Apps” in Apple iTunes Store
  • 4 star rating
  • #8 social networking app in Canada
  • #167 overall app in Canada

Downloads and usage continues to be strong.  

Discover Ottawa was launched on March 4th, 2011 by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Noel Buckley, President of Ottawa Tourism and City Councillor Tim Tierney, Chair of the City’s IT Sub-committee.  Media coverage and response was broad and positive.

Through the city’s partnership with key economic but diverse players the City of Ottawa has accomplished what no single member of the partnership could achieve on its own and done at minimal cost.

The three key achievements of this project are: a strong and effective collaboration of economic service delivery organizations in the City of Ottawa; a boost to economic and tourism activity in the city; and a cost-effective and efficient way for the City and its partners to highlight the unique qualities that make Ottawa a terrific place to live, work and play.

Information on Discover Ottawa, including selected press coverage and app download link is available online at