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Canadian government launches $50m ‘Smart City Challenge’

CEO and co-founder of Mio-Vision, Kurtis McBride said that in order to accelerate the development of smart cities, there needed to be an open ecosystem and open approach to technology in order to facilitate this change.

McBride said, "The future of smart cities requires open technology, and we encouraged the government to make openness a key piece of the Smart City Challenge. Open technology will ensure that cities are able to use the most innovative technologies and ensure that any future innovation will work with their investments today."

Communities that enter the 'Smart Cities Challenge' can receive vast amounts of funding from the $50m being made available through the initiative. The new program is also part of the Canadian government's overall project which is entitled the 'Impact Canada Initiative'. This initiative introduced by the government focuses on a number of factors which include alleviating economic, environmental and social problems in the country.

The 'Smart City Challenge' has already received dozens of proposals which range from the installation of smart lighting and detection to prevent crime to an application that enables people to connect with community services and utilities in a much more efficient manner. Municipalities, local or regional governments, and Indigenous communities can apply and will be able to work with the private and not-for-profit sectors, and the research community to improve their communities.

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Amarjeet Sohi expressed her delight at the creation of this new innovative program, and said that the project allows people to innovate with the ultimate aim of improving the lives of residents within their own communities.

The minister said, "This challenge - the first of its kind in Canada - will encourage communities to innovate and take risks to improve people's lives. Across the country, communities large and small are bursting with new ideas. The Smart Cities Challenge will help bring them to life, and find solutions that achieve real and positive outcomes for Canada's middle class."

The prizes for the Smart Cities Challenge include $50 million available to all communities; two prizes of up to $10 million, available to communities below 500,000 residents; and one prize of up to $5 million, available to communities with under 30,000 residents. A community or group of communities can only submit one application.

Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions welcomed the new initiative and said it was critical the Canadian government continued to embrace technology to combat the challenges it's presented with.

She said, "The Government of Canada has recognized it must be bold, ambitious, and inventive when tackling difficult challenges. I am pleased to be part of an approach that will help governments deliver meaningful results to Canadians. I look forward to the creative solutions that are developed as part of the Smart Cities Challenge and other future Impact Canada Initiatives, and to seeing the ideas of Canada's best and brightest come to life."