Last year, Canada launched one of the most ambitious smart cities challenges in the world, and now the federal government has selected a third-party to help offer support to the 20 selected finalists.
Evergreen will act as the central third-party advisor for the Smart Cities Community Support Program, a specialized initiative that will run parallel with the original $300 million Smart Cities Challenge. With this new support program, Evergreen will help communities and organizations both within the challenge as finalists, as well as those outside of the context of the overall competition. In total, Evergreen will receive up to $4.6 million form the government to contribute to the challenge.
“The Smart Cities Challenge is about creating innovative, inclusive and sustainable communities that Canadians are proud to call home, now and for years to come,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “The Government of Canada is pleased to be working with Evergreen and its diverse partners to support communities large and small across the country as they explore and implement ambitious smart cities ideas to improve the lives of their residents.”
Evergreen is a non-profit organization—perhaps most well-known for their Evergreen Brickworks location in Toronto—that works with city planners to facilitate low-carbon and inclusive solutions. They collaborate to test solutions, develop prototypes and scale projects, all within a carefully curated suite of programs.
The Toronto-based organization (which also has locations in Vancouver and Hamilton) was selected through an open callout process that began in early summer this year. Applications were weighted (in order of importance) on advisory reach, networks, HR, governance, plans and process, and tools and tech. Evergreen will now work with OpenNorth, the Future Cities Canada collaborative, and several other non-profits to deliver activities across the country. The key areas Evergreen will focus on are below.
- Advisory Services: “Activities that share expertise and provide guidance” on relevant topics such as tech, data, security, procurement and more.
- Active Matchmaking: “Activities that actively facilitate productive connections between stakeholders and communities” such as convening events or opportunities for connections.
- Knowledge-Sharing: “Activities that create or source content on emerging trends in smart cities issues and approaches.”
- Creation of Accessible Pan-Canadian Networks: “Activities that create and maintain open platforms where stakeholders and communities can engage with each other.”
- Accessing Established Networks: “Activities that access targeted and highly subscribed channels of communication to provide tools to communities, which may include Indigenous communities.”
- Building Awareness: “Activities that build awareness of and stimulate broad discussion on complex emerging smart cities issues” including cybersecurity, privacy and data ownership.
In more specific terms, Evergreen has plans to create a grant program for communities with limited resources to access information and guidance (as a few of the challenge’s finalists are remote Indigenous communities and small towns); create an online smart cities portal; a research network; a series of 100 in 1 day community engagement events; and other conferences and workshops.
One winning city will take home $50 million, two will take home $10 million, and one small community will get $5 million. The entire list of finalists (and their respective solutions) can be found here. Examples include Waterloo’s efforts to build a healthy children and youth campaign through data and community consultation; Nunavut’s efforts to increase suicide prevention through connectivity and digital access; and Saskatoon’s use of innovative tech to prevent youth incarceration.