Canadian government launches smart city challenge with $50 million top prize


The government of Canada has announced the launch of the Smart City Challenge, which is meant to encourage communities to leverage technology.

“The future of smart cities requires open technology, and we encouraged the government to make openness a key piece of the Smart City Challenge,” said Kurtis McBride, CEO and co-founder of Miovision. The company helped the government with the project’s guidelines with an emphasis on open technology. “Open technology will ensure that cities are able to use the most innovative technologies and ensure that any future innovation will work with their investments today.”

The prizes for the Smart Cities Challenge include $50 million available to all communities.

This project is part of the government of Canada’s Impact Canada  Initiative, a program that focuses on tackling economic, environmental, and social problems. The Challenge’s landing page includes several examples of potential proposals, including installing smart lighting and detection tech to reduce crime, and creating an app to connect people with community services.

Municipalities, local or regional governments, and Indigenous communities can apply and will be able to work with the private and not-for-profit sectors, and the research community to improve their communities.

“This challenge — the first of its kind in Canada — will encourage communities to innovate and take risks to improve people’s lives,” said Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “Across the country, communities large and small are bursting with new ideas. The Smart Cities Challenge will help bring them to life, and find solutions that achieve real and positive outcomes for Canada’s middle class.”

The prizes for the Smart Cities Challenge include $50 million available to all communities; two prizes of up to $10 million, available to communities below 500,000 residents; and one prize of up to $5 million, available to communities with under 30,000 residents. A community or group of communities can only submit one application.

Infrastructure Canada has asked Indigenous leaders and organizations to approve the design of a competition specific to Indigenous communities.

“The Government of Canada has recognized it must be bold, ambitious, and inventive when tackling difficult challenges. As the lead in the Government of Canada> for the Impact Canada Initiative, I am pleased to be part of an approach that will help governments deliver meaningful results to Canadians,” said Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions. “I look forward to the creative solutions that are developed as part of the Smart Cities Challenge and other future Impact Canada Initiatives, and to seeing the ideas of Canada’s best and brightest come to life.”

Applications will be accepted until April 24, 2018, and winners will be announced in Spring 2019. A list of finalists will be released in Summer 2018, and the jury will award these individuals $250,000 to develop their proposals.

The finalists and winners will be selected by an independent jury. those interested in being part of the jury can apply on the Infrastructure Canada website.

Photo via Unsplash


Aeman Ansari

Aeman Ansari is a freelance writer who has been published in many Toronto-based publications, including Hazlitt and Torontoist. When she’s not re-watching Hitchcock movies, she’s working on her collection of short fiction inspired by stories from her grandmother, one of the few women in India to receive post-secondary education in English literature at the time.

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