Smart Waterloo Region - A short history

In November 2017, the Government of Canada launched its Smart Cities Challenge. Informed by community engagement, the Smart Cities Challenge is a two phase funding competition open to all municipalities across Canada. The Challenge empowers municipalities and residents to think big about their future, encouraging communities to use technology and data to overcome their most pressing challenge.

Once launched, our community, the Region of Waterloo, three cities of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo and the four Townships of Woolwich, Wellesley, Wilmot and North Dumfries, came together to take part in the Challenge.

Throughout February and March 2018, we engaged our community to select our challenge. We asked our community to select one of three challenge areas: affordable housing, social inclusions or healthy children and youth. These challenge areas were based on extensive community engagement done by the Wellbeing Waterloo Region initiative. Through an online survey, public consultation centres and stakeholder roundtables, we reached out to residents, community and government organizations, the private and tech sectors and post-secondary institutions for feedback.

Based on all of the feedback collected, healthy children and youth was selected as our community’s challenge area. Once our challenge area was selected, we worked with the Children and Youth Planning Table to better understand child and youth well-being, and with the local tech sector to see what tech solutions exist to address this challenge. Engaging our tech sector lead us to new and exciting partnerships, and we learned that there are many tech solutions to improve child and youth well-being in our community.

After this outreach was completed, the Region and area municipalities worked together to submit our final smart cities application in April 2018.

On June 1, 2018 we found out that we were short-listed, with four other large cities, for the grand prize of $50 million! With this exciting news, the Smart Waterloo Region team continued to work hard throughout the summer, bringing on new team members and partners to plan our Phase 2 application.

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