The Government of Canada has launched the Smart Cities Challenge which encourages communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data, and connected technology.

Initial applications are due by April 24th, 2018, which should provide an overview of the idea and link to the Smart Cities Challenge criteria. A list of finalists will be announced in the summer of 2018, who will all receive up to $250,000 to further substantiate their proposal. Final submissions of the proposals will be expected by winter 2018/19, and the successful proposal will be awarded $10 million in spring of 2019.

What is a $10 million project?

Communities should take risks and think big. Identify significant, pressing and perceived “un-solvable” problems, and achieve outcomes through data and connected technology. Problems should fall within one or more of the following five focus areas:

  1. Economic opportunity: residents are supported by a thriving local economy. Examples of outcomes in this area could include: increased employment opportunities; reductions in processing times for business permits; improvements in skill levels in the local labour force; etc.
  2. Empowerment and inclusion: residents are supported and given the opportunity to participate in the community. Examples of outcomes in this area could include: reduced homelessness rates; reductions in the number of institutionalized children and youth; better integration of newcomers, refugees, youth, seniors, visible minorities, etc. in the community; opportunities to participate in, and to be informed about, the democratic process/decisions affecting the community; etc.
  3. Environmental quality: residents are able to enjoy a healthy environment. Examples of outcomes in this area could include: reduced greenhouse gas emissions; reductions in environmental contaminant levels; habitat preservation or renewal; etc.
  4. Healthy living and recreation: residents are able to live an active and healthy life. Examples of outcomes in this area could include: increased access to recreational programming; availability of remote health services; reduction in adverse health outcomes, etc.
  5. Mobility: residents can move freely within their community. Examples of outcomes in this area could include: increased accessibility to public transportation; reduced first mile/last mile gaps; reduction of congestion; etc.
  6. Safety and security: residents live in a safe and secure community. Examples of outcomes in this area could include: reduced crime rates; increased safety for women; improved emergency response times; etc.

What is a smart cities approach?

A smart city offers Openness which empowers citizens, Integration which breaks down silos, Transferability allowing tools to be used elsewhere and Collaboration allowing traditional and non-traditional partners together to collaborate.

The smart cities approach aims to achieve meaningful outcomes for a city’s residents by leveraging the benefits that data and connected technology can offer:

  1. Openness
    When communities make their data truly accessible, usable, and barrier-free, their decision-making processes become transparent, empowering citizens and strengthening the relationship between residents and public organizations.
  2. Integration
    Data and connected technology empower communities to break down silos that exist within local governments and public organizations.
  3. Transferability
    When tools and technological approaches are open-source, transparent, and standardized, they can be used by communities across the country, no matter their size or capacity.
  4. Collaboration
    Connected technology enables communities to bring traditional and non-traditional partners together to collaborate.