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The Challenge

Smart Cities Challenge: a new kind of initiative

The Smart Cities Challenge is a new way the Government of Canada is helping communities become healthier, more inclusive and liveable.

By challenging communities to use data and connected technologies to address their most pressing problems, the Smart Cities Challenge is encouraging innovation through:

  • Competition
    There is nothing like friendly Canadian rivalry to motivate communities to collaborate towards a common goal. The Challenge has meaningful prizes and a strong incentive to win.
  • Transparency
    Competing communities will share their ideas publically after submitting their applications. This transparency will encourage residents, decision-makers, private and public sector institutions across Canada to be inspired by the ideas and accomplishments of others.
  • Outcomes
    The Challenge is about solving issues that matter to residents. Winning proposals will be those that identify the most compelling, meaningful outcomes and set measurable and ambitious milestones to achieve them.
  • Experimentation
    The Challenge encourages communities to try new approaches, evaluate progress as they go, and make course corrections as needed.
  • Inclusiveness
    With prize categories for communities of all sizes, all Canadian communities have the opportunity to participate. The Challenge’s jury members, who will select finalists and winners, will come from diverse backgrounds, regions and perspectives. Challenge finalists and winners will be representative of Canada’s diverse communities.
  • Empowerment
    The Challenge will benefit all communities who compete, whether they win or not. By engaging residents, developing proposals, and building partnerships, communities will learn throughout the competition process. Communities that make it to the finalist stage will be supported by a $250,000 grant to develop their final proposals.
  • Knowledge-Sharing
    The knowledge and ideas created from this competition will be shared beyond participants and winners, so that communities across the country can benefit. Proposals and best practices will be posted online, and community leaders, residents, private and public sector stakeholders will have a chance to network, engage and share ideas through various platforms.

What is a smart cities approach?

A smart cities approach aims to achieve meaningful outcomes for residents by leveraging the fundamental benefits that data and connected technology have to offer:

  • 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.
  • Integration
    Data and connected technology empower communities to break down silos that exist within local governments and public organizations.
  • 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.
  • Collaboration
    Connected technology enables communities to bring traditional and non-traditional partners together to collaborate.

Who can apply?

The Smart Cities Challenge is open to communities of all sizes across Canada. Applicants must represent an identifiable community and must be responsible for services in that community.

The following organizations can participate in the Smart Cities Challenge:

  • Municipalities and local or regional governments established by or under provincial or territorial statute.
  • Indigenous communities including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities (such as First Nation band and Tribal Councils, and communities under Self-Government Agreement, Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement or the Métis nation).
  • A combination of organizations listed above.

A community or a group of communities can only submit one application in this competition.

Communities that intend to apply are encouraged to contact Infrastructure Canada early on to confirm their eligibility.

Selection of finalists and winners

Infrastructure Canada is currently looking for jury members for the Smart Cities Challenge. Interested individuals can apply on the Infrastructure Canada website.

The Jury will be comprised of accomplished individuals from across the country who are publicly recognized in their field, have a strong track record of leadership, and have a demonstrated interest in public issues or public service. Infrastructure Canada will strive to reflect gender parity and the diversity of the Canadian population in the Jury composition.

Finalists and winners will be determined by a panel of jury members.

Jury members will be selected by the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.