Smart Cities Celebrate Inclusion
Infrastructure Canada’s 2018 Smart City Challenge has provided an avenue by which communities and their residents may explore and develop opportunities to use data and connected technologies to address their local and regional needs. Through this engagement process over 255 applicants from our cities, rural communities and First Nations have been empowered to identify and submit 130 ambitious proposals with the expectation of becoming one of the 20 finalist applicants to receive Infrastructure Canada funding to develop and implement smart technology solutions.
The Government of Canada identified six Smart City themed areas for their April 2018 nation-wide contest:
- Economic Opportunity,
- Empowerment and Inclusion,
- Healthy Living and Recreation,
- Safety and Security.
This challenge empowered communities to develop partnerships, identify innovation and set tangible outcomes which will help communities, big and small, to become healthier, liveable and more inclusive. The challenge process emphasized community and resident engagement to ensure the focus was on what matters most to citizens, encouraging active involvement in deciding how technology can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.
To support broader knowledge sharing and openness the April 2018 proposal summaries of the 130 detailed submissions are available to all through the Infrastructure Canada’s 2018 Smart City Challenge website.
Analyzing the Challenge applications has provided key insight into the most persistent issues facing our urban and rural centres. In review it becomes apparent that our citizens and local governments are committed to creating better, more livable cities and they recognize that this opportunity allows them to be bold, take risks and develop innovative partnerships with solutions which are repeatable and transferable; providing future regional and national collaborations.
While every community is unique, the innovative spirit and the awareness of challenges faced by our people from the far north and remote islands to the large urban centres were common and persistent. The Challenge applications identify that across our nation, cities and towns, First Nations and rural communities have individually or as joined entities, focused funding needs on the development or use of Smart City applications and tools which support their local and regional economies driving to greater communication, efficiencies and sustainability.
Themes emerged from various communities’ proposals which identified issues and concerns for improved energy, waste and water management (12%); food and housing security (11%), development of technological/ economic (18%), and environmental /cultural opportunities (4%). Mobility solutions ranked high (20%), motivated by the evolving role of transit, shared services, and the wealth of transportation data from our new autonomous technologies.
The re-occurring theme Canadians identified as a significant factor was empowerment and inclusion; sense of community and belonging, well-being and dynamic engagement, (28%). This theme addressed youth and seniors, indigenous, new immigr
ants and long-time residents and identified the need for connections to provide real-time shared personal experiences and opportunities providing benefits that reach far-beyond their regional boundaries.
The Smart City Challenge applications provided us with awareness that our cities and residents are engaged in defining the direction in which Canada will create a thriving technology sector and an expanding innovation community that pursues and develops long term solutions for the betterment of our citizens.