MaRS, federal government launch Healthy Neighbourhoods Data Challenge


MaRS Discovery District and the Public Health Agency of Canada have launched the Healthy Neighbourhoods Data Challenge, a competition aimed to allow Canadians to promote healthy living.

“Our ability to make the right policy and design decisions regarding our physical environment is dependent upon good data.”

The competition challenges Canadians to identify new sources of data and analytical mechanisms that can improve the understanding of physical environments in order to promote healthy living and improved health outcomes in neighbourhoods. Focus areas of the challenge include walkability, food environment, active transportation, green and blue spaces and air quality.

“Through this challenge, we will be identifying and validating the best data sources and methodologies for analysis of our neighbourhoods in order to identify those elements critical to supporting the health of Canadians,” said Shahab Shahnazari, director of Innovation Challenges at MaRS.

Finalists will receive $10,000 for their concepts, and a maximum of $50,000 will be awarded to the winner of the challenge, along with the chance to scale their solution across the country. Outputs of the challenge will be used by public and private community builders as well as other health and public health stakeholders.

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The launch event took place last week and saw over 100 attendees comprised of entrepreneurs, academics, urban planners, members of the public sector, and students. The event featured panellists, including urban planner Kristen Boulard, Gayle Bursey of Toronto Public Health, and MaRS’ Shahnazari.

Tai Huynh, editor-in-chief of The Local, an independent magazine exploring urban health and social issues in Toronto, was the launch event’s keynote speaker. Huynh is also creative director at UHN OpenLab, a design and innovation studio dedicated to a human-centred approach for advancing health and its social determinants.

“Our ability to make the right policy and design decisions regarding our physical environment is dependent upon good data,” Shahnazari said. “This challenge will help us find it and get it into the right hands.”

The submission deadline for Phase 1 of the challenge is October 23. Interested candidates are able to visit MaRS’ website to create an account and register for the challenge.

Image courtesy Unsplash

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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