SMART CITIES CHALLENGE AIMS TO ENHANCE RESIDENTS' QUALITY OF LIVING
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by Cori Marshall
As we move forward, the word "smart" is added as a prefix to almost anything. Smart-phones, smart-watches, smart-bands, and smart-keychains, the word is everywhere. Another term that is becoming part of our everyday lexicon is smart city, but what does it actually mean?
In a May 2014 article, the Centre for Cities outlined definitions of smart cities. One from the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) defines smart cities as a process "in which citizen engagement, hard infrastructure, social capital and digital technologies make cities more livable, resilient and better able to respond to challenges."
Techopedia describes smart city as "a designation given to a city that incorporates information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the quality and performance of urban services." This convergence of technology and governance "is to enhance the quality of living for its citizens."
Infrastructure Canada (IC) has launched a competition that will promote smart cities and help finalist municipalities to implement their projects.
We spoke with Nadine Archambault-Chapleau, Media Relations with IC, about the Impact Canada Smart Cities Challenge.
Archambault-Chapleau explained that "the Smart Cities Challenge (SCC) is part of the Investing in Canada Plan."
According to the Investing in Canada Plan webpage, the aim is to "create long-term economic growth, support a low carbon, green economy, and build inclusive communities." There is "$14.4 billion focused on accelerating federal investments in the short-term,"
Budget 2017 made a more substantial commitment. "An additional $81.2 billion of funding [was made] available across five priority infrastructure streams: public transit, green, social trade and transportation, and rural and northern communities' infrastructure."
The money that has been set aside for the plan will be invested in projects by the Canada Infrastructure Bank, "an arms'-length Crown corporation."
Archambault-Chapleau said that "the challenge was launched in November 2017 and was created to empower communities across the country [and] to address local issues their residents face through new partnerships."
The competition is already underway, and the challenge is no longer accepting applications. Archambault-Chapleau said that "the challenge has drawn interest from communities of all sizes across Canada, from each province and territory." She added that "more than 200 communities from across Canada submitted 130 eligible applications."
The competition is open to any municipality, local or regional governments, and Indigenous communities.
Archambault-Chapleau outlined that "over the next few weeks, the [SCC] Jury will meet to deliberate and help select up to 20 finalists." She added that the "finalists will be announced before summer 2018."
"The Jury will recommend four winning communities to the Minister of Infrastructure and communities by spring 2019," Archambault-Chapleau said.
Prize Breakdown: 1 - $50 Million prize for larger cities, 2 - $10 Million prizes for cities with a population under 500,000, and 1 - $5 Million prize for cities with a population under 30,000.
Archambault-Chapleau explained that "a small team was established at Infrastructure Canada." She continued "we were determined to make a program that was flexible enough to work with communities of all sizes across the country."
"To encourage participation, we conducted extensive outreach covering all regions of Canada," Archambault-Chapleau said, "we held webinars, and reached out to people at conferences and trade-shows."
Archambault-Chapleau admitted that "we will learn from the process, [and] the learning will provide a foundation for how subsequent competitions will be managed."
There is an online platform for the competition that includes an interactive map indicating applicant communities, as well as the criteria for entry and judging.
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