Backgrounder: Smart Cities Challenge


The Government of Canada is challenging communities of all sizes, from coast to coast to coast, to come forward with their best ideas to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology.

The Challenge Statement

Communities understand best their own pressing and important issues.

Each community will begin its Challenge application process by defining its Challenge Statement. The Statement will guide the proposal, and will define the outcome (or outcomes) a community aims to achieve by implementing its smart cities proposal.

The Challenge Statement should be measurable, ambitious, and attainable through the proposed use of data and connected technology.

Prize Structure

One prize of up to $50 million
Open to all communities, regardless of population

Two prizes of up to $10 million each
Open to all communities with populations under 500,000 people

One prize of up to $5 million
Open to all communities with populations under 30,000 people

Infrastructure Canada is engaging Indigenous leaders, communities and organizations to finalize the design of a competition specific to Indigenous communities that will reflect their unique realities and issues. Indigenous communities are also eligible to compete for all the prizes in the current competition.

The Process

There are five key steps to the Challenge process:


  • Applicants engage with their residents, define their Challenge Statement, develop their ideas, and submit their applications by April 24, 2018.

Selection of Finalists, Summer 2018:

  • Jury selects finalists; Infrastructure Canada provides $250,000 grants to finalists to develop their proposals.

Final Proposal, Fall 2018:

  • Finalists work to develop fully-implementable proposals that outline all design, planning, and project management components; and establish partnerships with organizations that will help implement their proposal.
  • Final proposals are due in Winter 2019. The deadline and evaluation criteria for final proposals will be made public at the time of the announcement of finalists.

Selection of Winners, Spring 2019:

  • Infrastructure Canada posts all final proposals on the Challenge website. 
  • Jury selects the winners by Spring 2019.


  • Winners will receive prize money through contribution agreements with Infrastructure Canada.
  • Winners will implement their projects over 2-5 year timelines, depending on the nature of the project. They will maintain close contact with Infrastructure Canada, who will monitor progress towards established outcomes and work with winners if course corrections are necessary.
  • Lessons learned and successful approaches will be shared with communities across Canada.

Who Can Apply

  • Municipalities, local or regional governments
  • Indigenous communities including First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities

Two or more of these organizations can submit a joint application. Indigenous communities are eligible to apply for any of the prizes regardless of their population.

Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated against criteria summarized below. Full criteria are posted in the applicant guide on the Challenge website.

Criteria Summary and Weighting

Problem Definition (55/100)

The Challenge Statement and outcomes.
The Challenge Statement is ambitious, measurable and achievable through the proposed use of technology and data.

Outcomes are meaningful, measurable, reflect the needs of the community and are explained within the context of a smart city approach.

Community Engagement
Proposals should demonstrate that efforts have been made to incorporate a diverse range of feedback from residents and community organizations and should demonstrate plans to sustain community engagement throughout the life of the proposal.

Preliminary Proposal Details (45/100)

Preliminary Proposal Description
Proposal qualifies as a smart cities approach, is feasible, suited to achieving the expected outcome in an impactful, ambitious and transformative way. Proposal is forward-thinking, pertinent, easily adaptable, replicable, can be expanded within the community, is robust and flexible enough to accommodate changing circumstances, and has the potential to serve or enable other purposes or uses.

Strategic Alignment
Proposal is well-aligned with a larger smart cities vision for the community and complements additional efforts to achieve the outcome.

Applicant Readiness 
Applicant has planned for organizational structures, processes and practices needed to implement its proposal. 

Plan for using the grant
Applicant's plan to use the finalist grant reflects an appropriate use of funds to build capacity to implement its proposal.

Partnership Approach 
Proposal identifies real and potential partners and all major players, who are relevant and have clear roles and responsibilities in the execution of the proposal and are diverse (e.g. private sector, not-for-profit, public utilities, research, and community organizations).

The Jury

Finalists and winners will be determined by a panel of jury members. 

The Jury will be comprised of accomplished individuals from across the country who are publicly recognized in their field and have a strong track record of leadership across a range of disciplines.

Infrastructure Canada will strive to reflect gender parity and appropriate representation of Indigenous peoples and minority groups in the Jury composition.

Jury members will be selected by the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. The selection process is now open on the Infrastructure Canada website.

News and Updates

Updates on the Smart Cities Challenge will be posted on Twitter and Facebook as well as the Impact Canada Challenge Platform at

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