Canadian municipalities of all sizes are facing unique challenges to do with population, distance, and public services. Large and growing urban centers need improved ways to deal with congestion, mobility, and sustainability, while smaller and more remote communities face barriers to accessing high-quality infrastructure and social support. One way to solve this is to help our cities and regions become more informed, efficient, and “smart.”
What is a Smart City?
A “smart city” is not defined by size, affluence, or even integration of smart devices. Instead, a smart city uses all of its resources, including information and communications technology (ICT), to communicate with citizens, collect and analyze data in a secure manner, and deliver long-lasting, evidence-based services for all. Smart cities emphasize accessibility, effectiveness, and sustainability, in terms of both longevity and environmental friendliness. Common resources and services are supported by digital interconnectedness and vice-versa, where people, governments, companies, and the environment around them are able to exchange mutually intelligible information, form plans, and make decisions.
Smart Cities in Canada
In 2017, more than 200 municipalities across Canada responded to Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge with comprehensive proposals that leveraged new technologies and insights in support of economic opportunity, empowerment and inclusion, environmental quality, healthy living and recreation, mobility, and safety and security. Beyond the challenge, over the past five years, Canadian municipalities from Calgary to Kitchener (and above and beyond) have created digital strategies and plans for transforming their urban spaces to be more interconnected, efficient, and sustainable. Furthermore, these plans frequently rely on private sector partnerships and create new avenues for companies and start-ups to come to Canada, grow, and improve prosperity for citizens.