Smart Cities Challenge

A national competition to support smart growth.

All across the world, cities are growing—and that’s leading to innovation. 

In February 2018, Infrastructure Canada launched the Smart Cities Challenge. It’s a national competition that encourages Canadian communities to find ways to implement smart technologies and practices. Winners will receive funding to see their ideas through.

Cites and communities are competing for four awards:

  • One prize of up to $50 million (all communities)
  • Two prizes of up to $10 million (communities with populations under 500,000)
  • One prize of up to $5 million (communities with populations under 30,000)

What’s a smart city?
Urban living poses challenges, and not all of them can be solved using a traditional approach. A “smart” approach to urban development incorporates:

  • Communications technologies,
  • Intelligent data,
  • Internet of things platforms. 

It uses these tools to come up with innovative solutions to ongoing local challenges like transportation, work, safety, education and environmental impact.

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How can we create more energy-efficient buildings? Better ways to deliver city services? More efficient roads and energy systems? How can we improve the way people work and live? The Smart Cities Challenge encourages communities to embrace the possibilities of technology—everything from sensors and digital connectivity to big data and predictive analytics—when answering these questions.

What are the benefits?

Not only do smart communities improve quality of life for their residents, they also make sense economically. Return-on-investment studies on European cities have shown that a “smart” approach offers good value in several areas.

  • Energy: Technologies like smart meters, intelligent LED streetlights and digital energy grid management solutions have been shown to reduce energy costs and emissions while increasing capacity and efficiency.
  • Buildings: Statistics show that sensors and smart control devices make homes and other types of structures more energy-efficient and more comfortable. 
  • Efficiency: Digital solutions to traffic congestion can increase the efficiency of roads while reducing pollution.  
  • Connectivity: Resources like free citywide WiFi, e-ticketing for transit services and e-bike rentals have been shown to benefit business and tourism. 

What’s next? 
Right now, cities including Calgary and Edmonton are working alongside business, academia and civic organizations to create proposals, which they must submit by April 24, 2018. 

Smart Cities Challenge finalists, chosen by a jury, will receive up to $250,000 to support the development of a detailed proposal and business case. Canadians will learn who the winners are in spring 2019. 

Small and Smart
Cochrane, Alberta is preparing a proposal for the Smarter Cities Challenge. The town’s population is under 30,000, but Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung is going big — he says many of the town’s residents believe this historic ranching town could beat cities like Toronto and Vancouver for the $50 million award. 
What it comes to smart communities, is being small an advantage? Get the story on Cochrane’s Smarter Cities Challenge bid.

February 23rd, 2018
Updated: February 26th, 2018

The Smart Cities Challenge encourages Canadian communities to embrace technology.