In early April, Happy City St. John's and the City of St. John's
announced a partnership to prepare a proposal for the Smart Cities
Challenge. The Smart Cities Challenge, organized by Infrastructure
Canada, is a national competition encouraging municipalities and
indigenous communities across Canada to develop innovative
approaches to solving local problems through a smart cities
approach. The City of St. John's is applying for the prize of $10
What is a smart cities approach, you ask? In simplest terms, a
smart city is a community that integrates information and
communications technology into its infrastructure to improve the
quality of government and the wellbeing of residents. Happy City
was engaged in this initiative because of our background in
facilitating public dialogue in St. John's, and to build on a
growing conversation regarding mobility in St. John's. When invited
by Councillor Burton to participate in the public conversation
throughout this process, we eagerly agreed.
The approach for public participation throughout this process
Broad public engagement: residents of St.
John's were consulted and this project was promoted through online
channels, an online survey, and in-person consultation sessions
which occurred in open sessions and more targeted groups;
Partnerships: community groups such as the
Coalition for Persons with Disabilities NL, Choices for Youth,
Stella Burry Community Services, Memorial University, SeniorsNL,
and others, were engaged to consult and represent their
constituents throughout this process. Consultation sessions were
held with a number of community groups to provide a comfortable and
open space to voice experiences and needs;
Challenge Committee: a group was formed
including representatives from Happy City, community groups, the
tech entrepreneur community, and citizen representatives, as well
as city staff and municipal and provincial government
representatives. This group was formed by active recruitment of
groups and individuals with related expertise and interests, and
through public calls for interested parties.
We have been amazed by the public response to this
What has developed throughout this process is a conversation
around the intersection between public health and mobility in St.
John's. Public health is not traditionally within the jurisdiction
of municipalities; but, one distinct way in which St. John's can
impact physical and mental health is by empowering residents to
move more freely through the city. This is why a smart cities
approach to an integrated mobility network has been proposed.
"Integrated mobility network" means creating a system that
focuses on all the ways in which residents move around the city,
and facilitating more inclusive, sustainable transportation. To
take a smart cities approach is to use information and
communications technology to analyse the ways in which people move,
and implement a mobility network that utilizes smart technology to
enable that movement.
The application is due Tuesday, April 24th.
Applications are adjudicated by a jury of experts across Canada,
and five applicants for each level of prize are selected for phase
2. Those communities who are selected for phase 2 will be provided
$250,000 to flesh out a final application throughout Fall 2018,
with winners of each level of prize being selected in Spring
We are optimistic and look forward to seeing what conversations
have occurred in other municipalities. Regardless of the outcome,
be assured happy citizens, Happy City St. John's will continue the
momentum around the mobility conversation in St. John's!