Our Initial Proposal


Described below is Edmonton's challenge statement.


Described below is Edmonton's Smart Cities Challenge Phase One submission.

Please provide the following information on your community.

Name of Community: Edmonton

Province/Territory: Alberta

2016 Statistics Canada Census Population:  932,546

Indigenous Community: No

Please select a prize category.

$50 million

Please define your challenge statement in a single sentence that guides your preliminary proposal. It should describe the outcome (or outcomes) you hope to achieve.

Edmonton will lead the transformation of Canadian healthcare using an unprecedented municipal approach by focusing on leveraging relationships, health data and innovative technologies to provide a personalized health connection and experience as unique as the health of every Edmontonian.

Please describe the outcome (or outcomes) your proposal seeks to achieve by elaborating on your Challenge Statement.

Why Health?

As cities have grown and evolved through the agricultural and industrial revolutions, this has caused the unwanted consequences of social isolation, segregation and sedentary behaviour. We are now experiencing the digital revolution, which fundamentally influences how we interact, communicate and connect. Although some residents have taken full advantage of this revolution, some lack the capability or means to bridge the digital divide.

Municipal governments are closest to their residents and have a significant impact on quality of life and wellness — cities connect residents with each other physically, spiritually and emotionally and support them in living healthy, safe and joyful lives. Although the primary responsibility for the delivery of healthcare resides with provincial governments, municipalities deliver a multitude of social and economic policies, programs and services that impact and are impacted by the social determinants of health. As the larger ecosystem changes, the relationship between a city and the health of its residents is even more pronounced.

Through multiple engagement streams, some suggestions narrowly define smart city approaches such as smart mobility, broadband infrastructure, service digitization or automation as alternate focus areas. Mobility, economic development and operational efficiencies are important to the City of Edmonton, and existing smart city programs are addressing these. However, none of these lay the foundational work to improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

The 2016 Conference Board of Canada City Health Monitor ranked Edmonton eighth place out of 10 in physical and socio-economic health among larger Canadian municipalities.  A smart city approach to improve the health of Edmontonians is indeed a priority. Moreover, this approach is risky, innovative and has the potential to make Edmonton one of the healthiest cities in Canada.

With the recognition that health services need to be responsive to the unique needs of all residents, the City of Edmonton recognizes the need for an approach that is community-driven, evidence-based and delivered in partnership with the larger health ecosystem. This is incredibly ambitious but achievable.

Edmonton’s innovative smart city approach to improve health addresses the true needs of the community through a collaboration between public sector organizations, private sector organizations and residents. This approach, enabled by technology, analytics and data, will bring Edmonton back to its roots — a place where all residents have equal opportunity for healthy, safe and joyful lives.

Why This Approach?

The City of Edmonton’s proactive approach proposes to improve people’s health by addressing the root causes of health issues, rather than treating the symptoms. Focusing on the social determinants of health will costs less than reactive spending on healthcare. This is a transformational shift in thinking — one of prevention.


The City of Edmonton has three broad goals with respect to its approach.  

The first goal is to create a municipal-led Healthy City Ecosystem that facilitates essential partnerships and data sharing. The Healthy City Ecosystem comprises public sector organizations, private sector organizations and residents. The intent of the Healthy City Ecosystem is to improve the capacity of all partners while developing efficient and significant ways to provide meaningful services to the residents they all support. This will be done by identifying partnerships, opportunities for innovation and the means by which to improve the efficacy of healthcare services.

The second goal is to share anonymized health data and information between all members of the Healthy City Ecosystem to consolidate disparate data and help assess service delivery and streamline coordination. This is transformational because health data has been historically stewarded by provincial health authorities and primary care practitioners. This goal will be achieved in partnership with Alberta’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to ensure privacy and security.

The third goal is to positively impact the health of Edmontonians by increasing connectedness, decreasing loneliness and increasing a sense of belonging. The City envisions a community that thrives, one where there is no digital divide and every member of the community has an equitable opportunity to be healthy and fulfilled. Edmonton is a city for all, connected and healthy. When health programs are delivered to their maximum benefit, every Edmontonian and the city as a whole thrives.

Through these goals, the City will work with its partners to break down silos and improve how healthcare and human services are offered in Edmonton, a model that could be applied to all Canadian municipalities.

Edmonton will be the first Canadian municipal-level effort to influence health through the use of integrated data. The initial efforts of the approach will focus on increasing connectedness, decreasing loneliness and increasing a sense of belonging, but differing future applications and benefits are limitless.

Defined Outcomes

With three overarching goals to improve the health of Edmontonians and enable those who provide care, the City of Edmonton will achieve the following three outcomes over a five-year timeframe:

  • Increase connectedness to the community by 15 percent for all Edmontonians
  • Decrease loneliness by 10 percent, starting with older adults (55+ years)
  • Increase sense of belonging by 10 percent, starting with newcomers

The two specific target demographics proposed represent a substantial segment of Edmonton’s population and were identified by research as segments that could most benefit. Older adults and newcomers represent many demographics (varying religions, socio-economic classes, etc.) but allow for effective measurement as the approach proceeds. According to the Statistics Canada 2016 census (recognizing both of these categories are not mutually exclusive), more than 222,000  residents are aged 55+ and more than 285,000 residents claim a non-official first language.

The interventions contemplated in this approach are within the capabilities of the City and its partners. They are supported by a well-established framework for governance, public and community engagement and program delivery.

Outcome Selection

The City of Edmonton consulted with numerous stakeholders in the Healthy City Ecosystem to identify the outcomes selected as part of this submission. In addition to the evidence detailed below, the City’s public engagement identified four common themes to improve health:

  • Access to health, community, healthy food and active living options
  • Mobility, including multi-modal transit options and travelling in winter
  • Culture, language and family supports
  • Connection to services and the community

The following is a summary of the research that provides context for the selected outcomes:  

Saeri et al. (2018) demonstrated a strong causality between social connectedness leading to ill health. Each outcome is a different way of looking at an individual’s sense of their social connectedness.

Connectedness to community focuses on the more objective factors of social connection: family, friends, neighbourhood, services, and community events and facilities. Low connectedness is strongly correlated with the onset of depression or mental distress (Saeri et al. 2018). Strong connectedness is associated with 50 percent greater longevity (Seppala 2018); fewer unhealthy behaviours (use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs; IOM 2001); and better employment prospects (Xue 2008).

Loneliness is a subjective feeling of being alone; disconnected; or alienated from people, places and things. Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26 percent (Holt-Lunstad 2015). The effect of loneliness and isolation on mortality is comparable to obesity and smoking; weak social connection is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad 2010). Loneliness is also associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke, an increased risk of high blood pressure, and a higher risk of the onset of a disability (Valtorta et al. 2016; Hawkley et al. 2010; Lund et al. 2010).

Loneliness places residents at greater risk of cognitive decline (James et al. 2011); lonely people have a 64 percent increased chance of developing clinical dementia (Holwerda et al. 2012); people who feel lonely are also more prone to depression (Cacioppo et al. 2006); and loneliness is a predictor of suicide in older age (O’Connell et al. 2004).

There is a near perfect correlation (r²=0.9737) between the loneliness score of adults over 55 and the likelihood of their being among the five percent of the population that consumes 65 percent of healthcare resources. This results in $4.3 billion of annual healthcare costs assumed by the province of Alberta (Lewanczuk 2018).

Sense of belonging embodies the social attachment of individuals to their community and reflects social engagement and participation within communities. A sense of belonging  to social groups and networks is more important to health than diet and exercise (Holt-Lundstadt et al. 2010). Sense of belonging has a strong relationship with unmet healthcare needs: respondents with a weak sense of community belonging were 27 percent more likely to report having unmet healthcare needs (Baiden et al. 2014).

The Canadian Community Health Survey found that higher levels of physical and mental health were associated with higher levels of sense of belonging (Kitchen et al. 2012). Sense of belonging impacts the severity of depression and stress and can also influence health behaviour change (Baiden et al. 2014). People with a weak sense of community belonging have fewer social support networks to turn to for help or to receive advice from in times of need (Bryant et al. 2009; Ellen et al. 2001). They also may not know where or how to access adequate or appropriate healthcare. Baiden et al. (2014) argued that there is a need for interventions that create favourable conditions for individuals to take an active part in community activities; this would strengthen community networks, and enhance access to healthcare.

Improving someone’s sense of belonging improves their access to community resources (Hystad & Carpiano 2012). Sense of belonging influences health behaviour change and is an important component of primary prevention initiatives aimed at increasing health through broad population initiatives (Hystad & Carpiano 2012).  

Baseline Measurements

Baseline data for each outcome is currently available; however, the City will identify and develop mechanisms to provide more meaningful insights to measure intervention effectiveness. As the approach evolves, so will its measurement.

The three current baseline measures are:

  • Connectedness to the community: City of Edmonton Citizen Satisfaction Survey, 2017
  • Loneliness: PEGASIS survey of Edmontonians over 55, 2015
  • Sense of Belonging: Canadian Community Health Survey, 2014

Connectedness is measured through the City of Edmonton’s Citizen Satisfaction Survey in which respondents identified if they have access to community facilities and can access assistance from their friends/family if required. This survey is completed on an annual basis and is validated with demographic data to assess whether respondents are a representative sample of the overall population.

The 2017 survey showed that 53 percent of respondents felt disconnected to their community. Among those disconnected from their community, the major contributing factors identified were that they were not active or involved in their community (42 percent), their family or friends didn’t live in the community (41 percent ), they didn’t know their neighbours (22 percent), or they didn’t  participate in community events (20 percent).

Loneliness is measured through the 2015 survey completed by PEGASIS, a collaboration of senior-serving agencies in Edmonton. PEGASIS’s mandate is to develop new ways of supporting seniors to reduce social isolation and create a community where seniors feel more valued and respected. The PEGASIS survey replicated the three-item University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Loneliness Scale: How often do you feel that you lack companionship? How often do you feel left out? How often do you feel isolated from others?

In the 2015 survey of Edmontonians aged 55+, 24 percent of respondents identified as lonely, 13 percent did not feel connected to their families, and 17 percent did not feel connected to their friends. During the preparation of the final proposal, the City will build out this survey to a broader and more diverse sample to establish a baseline for implementation.

Sense of belonging is measured by the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). The CCHS is a cross-sectional survey that collects information related to health status, healthcare utilization and health determinants for the Canadian population.

The 2014 survey showed that 37.8 per cent of Edmontonians did not feel a sense of belonging to their community, the highest in Alberta. During the preparation of the final proposal, the City will establish a baseline specifically for Edmonton.

Measurement Strategy

The City will update the baselines for the outcomes during development of the final proposal. The updated baselines will initially be based on surveys focused on Edmontonians and the segments identified for the pilot projects, using the same questions and formats as the preliminary baselines described above.

As the City moves through the approach and tests specific interventions, follow-up surveys will be conducted in the test and control communities. In addition to measurement of the three primary outcomes, there will also be activity-specific measures that will ensure alignment with Edmonton’s goals.

These activity measures, as described in the answer to Question 6, will be verified at the community level as the activities are implemented, being derived directly from the data gathered, rather than surveys. Progress of the outcome and activity-specific measures will be tracked over time and reported to the stakeholders on a regular basis. These results will be used to improve the subsequent interventions.

Rationale for a Smart Cities Approach

The City of Edmonton’s Smart City Strategy has uniquely defined a smart city as a relationship between the members of its ecosystem: public sector organizations, private sector organizations and residents. Edmonton’s Smart City Strategy is about more than just the technological delivery of services through the Internet of Things, robots and autonomous vehicles. It is about social connectivity, a city where every resident, no matter their circumstance, culture or language, feels strongly connected to their neighbourhood and the broader community. Edmonton is Canada’s Most Open City (Public Sector Digest, 2015, 2016 and 2017) and a Top 7 Intelligent Community (Intelligent Community Forum, 2017). It’s a place where the community leverages data and connected technology to become more engaged with one another through social interactions such as volunteering, celebrating or just being together in the neighbourhood.

Edmonton is in an advantageous position to implement change to healthcare delivery and collaboration through its experience; capability and leadership in building partnerships, delivering innovative technology initiatives and advancing data and information accessibility.

Residents will live longer, more meaningful lives in their homes and neighbourhoods, supported by the community, reducing overall societal costs. Edmonton will demonstrate how inter-agency collaboration and technology can be used to improve health outcomes by transforming the approach to health to one of prediction, support and prevention. The City is uniquely positioned to understand the health of its residents and quickly test interventions at the neighbourhood level, measuring outcomes and reporting results to inform decision-making for itself, its Healthy City Ecosystem partners and other jurisdictions.

Improving health by using data and technology is possible, and as a municipality, we are best suited to do so because local government is the closest to residents, experiencing daily interactions through the provision of services. Through this proposal, we are bringing all three elements together, applying all of that experience, leadership and capability to make a meaningful impact on how residents thrive.

The future of Canada is one in which collaboration, partnerships and inclusion affect behaviour change and enable data, technology and innovation.

Please describe how your community residents have shaped your Challenge Statement. Describe your plans for continuing to engage and involve them in your final proposal.

This approach was informed by one year of intense, focused engagement with stakeholders, building upon 10 years of previous engagement to shape Edmonton’s strategic plan. Engagement will intensify through development of the final proposal and its implementation. The engagements are inclusive, accessible and outcome-driven.

Public Engagement

Edmonton is a community in which residents are engaged and lead the development of Edmonton’s long term strategic priorities.

  • In 2007 and 2008, extensive public engagement shaped Edmontonians’ common vision for their community’s future as articulated in “The Way Ahead”, the City of Edmonton’s Strategic Plan.
  • In 2010 and 2011, a livability plan (“The Way We Live”) was developed through consultation with Indigenous people, seniors, people with disabilities, and youth.
  • In 2015, EndPoverty Edmonton engaged more than 3,000 Edmontonians to identify how poverty could be ended in a generation. Outreach activities focused on Indigenous people, newcomers, young and old, and the organizations that support these individuals.
  • In 2016 and 2017, consultation with businesses, community leagues, recent immigrants and refugees, school boards, cultural community leaders (Indigenous, Métis, Muslim and Somali communities), the homeless and those who work with them, and sufferers of mental health and addictions informed the development of an Urban Wellness Plan, “Recover”.

As Edmonton continues to grow and evolve, the strategic plan is being revised, ensuring that the long-term needs of residents are well articulated and guide everything the City does. Between January and March 2018, over 85 community leaders and 8,000 residents helped refine and advise Council on the vision, principles and strategic goals that will help make Edmonton a more innovative, resilient, inclusive, connected and healthy city.

Smart City Program

In 2016, the City launched the Smart City Program — dedicating staff at the leadership level to advance innovation, digital enablement and partnership-building. As a part of this program, the City engaged with leaders, residents and stakeholders to understand the challenges and opportunities facing the community. This engagement began with a year of networking in which 155 individuals and 54 organizations informed the development of Edmonton’s Smart City Strategy. The Smart City team also hosted the three-day 2017 Canadian Open Data Summit, with 600 attendees from all over the world.

In addition, the City:

  • Hosted the Smart City Symposium in October 2017, with 85 attendees representing 40 organizations and generating more than 250 ideas.
  • Conducted four focus groups in October 2017. Three with 24 residents, and another with 12 members of Edmonton’s technology and data community.
  • Established the Smart City External Advisory Committee in November 2017, with 15 members representing the diversity of Edmonton’s Smart City Ecosystem.
  • Explained the City’s Smart Cities Challenge process at ten venues (BetaCityYEG; Data Science, Python, Data Management, and GIS meetups; iGeek event; and several post-secondary  institutions) to more than 200 attendees in November 2017.
  • Conducted Community League surveys, receiving feedback from the representatives of 36 community leagues in November 2017.

The consensus of what the City heard was that Edmontonians want to transform how healthcare services are delivered, become healthier and be more engaged in their communities. They desire to create a sense of compassion, inclusiveness and connectedness that empowers them to support each other. The results of all the engagement activities validated the importance that residents place on quality of life, as opposed to other initiatives including economic development and smart mobility.

Smart Cities Challenge Journey

After the Challenge was announced on November 23, 2017, understanding that this approach should be determined by the community, the City intensified engagement. The City conducted more than 100 interviews with key stakeholders across the community and launched an online engagement portal to gather residents’ ideas regarding improved quality of life. Then, stakeholders of Edmonton’s Smart City ecosystem and the Smart City External Advisory Committee determined the four pillars of a healthy city: physical, social, mental and economic health.

The official Healthy City theme was launched by Mayor Don Iveson during a press conference at Edmonton’s Smart Cities Challenge Summit on February 20, 2018. More than 50 health community leaders representing public sector and private sector organizations participated in a workshop to provide their expertise, initiating conversations to lay the foundations for the Healthy City Ecosystem. Simultaneously, to engage residents, the online engagement portal was refined with the Healthy City theme and has attracted more than 10,000 visits and 120 distinct ideas. The site also provides a comprehensive Smart Cities Challenge resource guide and links to all other known Canadian smart city initiatives — illustrating the City of Edmonton’s commitment to partnership and information sharing.

Led by the City of Edmonton’s Analytics Centre of Excellence, a sentiment analysis was performed on the data gathered through these engagements. Using machine-learning algorithms, residents’ and stakeholders’ core issues were identified. The sentiment analysis confirmed that Edmontonians are primarily concerned about their health and well-being and they expect the City of Edmonton to focus its efforts and resources on initiatives that will improve their quality of life.

To build excitement and gather more health-specific input, the City launched a hackathon — HealthHack — on March 3, 2018 (International Open Data Day). The event was attended by 80 residents and 38 innovative software development project proposals were put forward.  Following an in-person demonstration on April 16, 2018, five Healthy City Ecosystem judges selected a wheelchair accessibility tracker (sensors enabling wheelchair users and their families to plan accessible excursions) as the winner.

Throughout the first weeks of March 2018, the City conducted four intense days of focused engagement, involving 16 workshops with residents, subject matter experts and vendors, augmented by Smart City virtual reality experiences. More than 150 organizations and private residents participated, and the data and observations gathered from these sessions informed the final determination of the Smart Cities Challenge approach.

From March 20-29, 2018, over 2,100 residents in the Edmonton Insight Community provided their ideas and viewpoints on the Healthy City theme. The Insight Community is an inclusive and accessible online resident panel with a diverse range of over 8,000 Edmontonians who provide feedback on City policies and initiatives. Of the more than 2,100 respondents, when asked what their top health concern, 52 percent identified barriers to active and healthy living, 27 percent identified access to healthcare, and 21 percent identified social isolation.

To provide transparency to the development of our approach and encourage participation, the City:

  • advertised in print media with an aggregate circulation of 488,000;
  • placed 126 posters in 52 locations, such as libraries, community centres, social agencies, safe houses, and shelters to reach residents who may not have digital tools;
  • used Twitter and Facebook to make progress updates and solicit ideas, resulting in over 500 impressions; and
  • gathered 260 distinct viewpoints from more than 1,000 individuals in the newcomer, Indigenous, low income, homeless, vulnerable youth, older adult, and LGBTQ2S+ communities through mediums reflecting their communication preferences, including in-person workshops, interviews and paper and electronic surveys.

Overall, the qualitative results led to an overriding consensus that there is a relationship between connectedness, loneliness, a sense of belonging and health. Edmontonians want to to be strong, empowered advocates for themselves and one another but lack the means and mechanisms to do so.

In particular, stakeholders stated that the following barriers are the primary contributors to these challenges:

  • Urban sprawl: Physical isolation has contributed to social isolation, poor access to healthy food choices and increased incidence of chronic disease.
  • Winter City: A challenging winter climate complicates achieving a year-round active lifestyle and accessing services, especially for newcomers from warmer climates.
  • Social Support Structures: Some segments of Edmonton’s population, newcomers to Edmonton in particular, lack family, language, cultural supports and the awareness of the services available to assist them.
  • Health Awareness: Individuals may not be aware of changes in the health and social conditions that impact their lives. Due to community disconnection, individuals at risk may not be identified.
  • Access to Services: Health and social services can operate in a disparate fashion, making it challenging for residents to access the right care, at the right time, at the right place, by the right provider, with the right information. Services also are not delivered in a way that acknowledges the unique needs of language and culture.

Ongoing Engagement Activities

Public engagement is a critical component of all decision-making, and the City of Edmonton has robust processes and standards to ensure engagement activities are meaningful and accessible.  Edmonton is city that enables and values the participation of residents to define and achieve a better quality of life.

The activities listed below will ensure the approach continues to reflect the true needs and perspectives of Edmontonians, implemented by the City on behalf of the larger community:

  • Continued activity-specific campaigns to engage target audiences
  • Continued online engagement through the Smart Cities Portal, Twitter and Facebook
  • Monthly neighbourhood engagements through Engage Edmonton and Neighbourhood Resource Coordinators
  • Monthly surveys delivered by the Edmonton Insight Community
  • Monthly tech/data-oriented meetups with the local civic technology community
  • Quarterly surveys of Edmonton’s 157 Community Leagues
  • Biannual hackathons on National Civic Hacking Day and International Open Data Day

Please describe your preliminary proposal and its activities or projects.

The outcomes to achieve the challenge statement will be accomplished through four interrelated activities:

  1. Continued growth of the Healthy City Ecosystem
  2. Breakdown of silos through the development of a health data repository ($25M)
  3. Engagement of residents through the development of a digital tool to connect them to the providers who support their health ($5M)
  4. Enablement of residents through the assessment and provision of technology infrastructure and devices to two target segments: older adults ($10M) and newcomers ($10M)

Activity 1 – Healthy City Ecosystem

Through the development of this proposal, the City of Edmonton has already created many of the partnerships essential to the Healthy City Ecosystem, so this activity is well underway. As the other three activities are executed, the City will continue to nurture and expand upon these partnerships as required to address the complexities of Activities 2-4 (as described below). The staff costs associated with this activity are already covered in the City’s existing budget as they fall under the existing mandates of public engagement and the Smart City Strategy.

Activity 2 – Health Data Repository

Instrumental in achieving this proposal’s outcomes is the development of a comprehensive data repository, encompassing all of the data elements relating to health. This activity is foundational for other advanced technological solutions discussed later in this proposal and potentially those initiated at a later date by other organizations to complement this work.

Various organizations, including different orders of government and healthcare providers, have aggregated data related to the health of neighborhoods and individuals. Sharing this anonymized health data among all stakeholders in the broad health ecosystem would improve the health of residents through the optimization of service delivery and increased accessibility.  

With the proliferation of wearables and other innovative technologies, the volume, velocity and veracity of data that pertains to an individual’s health has grown immensely. The City of Edmonton’s approach firstly focuses on connecting disparate datasets from the Healthy City Ecosystem stakeholders and the data collected by new connected technologies in an anonymized and integrated format to allow for assessment, analytics and data mining.  

Although data sharing and new technologies require significant effort to develop, one of the biggest challenges for smart cities is institutional barriers. The City of Edmonton, along with its partners, has already made progress developing a robust Healthy City Ecosystem that sees data-sharing as the missing link to effective individual and community interventions. The most arduous work for the Healthy City Ecosystem will be to navigate the legal and privacy complexities of data sharing and take the necessary steps to ensure that Edmontonians are confident their information will be secured and accessed only with informed consent.  

The data repository will use open data approaches, open architecture and code, industry standards and best practices for data governance. The analytics performed on this data repository will allow health providers and authorized community supports to identify services that could be offered to Edmontonians based on the insights. The implementation of this work is transformative and will support deep, systemic and sustainable change, with incredible potential to impact the quality of life for all Canadians. The data repository can scale or be modified based on the emerging needs of residents, the evolution of healthcare services and increases in population.

The City of Edmonton is uniquely positioned to facilitate the creation of this data repository and complementary efforts are underway within a provincially funded applied research and development corporation, Alberta Innovates.

The success of this activity will be measured by:

  1. The number of datasets contained within the repository
  2. The number of partners providing datasets to the repository
  3. The number of actions undertaken using the data contained within the repository

Activity 3 – Digital Tool

Next, we will create a digital tool whereby all residents can identify additional services, relationships and technologies that they will be able to access and use to improve their health and connectedness. The tool will be accessible through numerous digital channels including existing and additional kiosks in many locations (all accessible on public transit routes). The tool will integrate the functionality of previously unconnected tools, such as recreation facility programming, volunteer service matching and transit information.

The two-way communications and data-sharing enabled by the tool will allow the stakeholders of the Healthy City Ecosystem to analyze health indicators at an aggregated neighbourhood or population level and make recommendations, ranging from changes in services to full policy amendments. The access to the anonymized and aggregated data will provide providers and policymakers objective evidence on which to perform analytics and determine the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of current and planned programming. This tool will be the central point to obtain services and information meaningful to residents.

The unique tool will be agile and adaptable, learning from each interaction to partner with residents as they move through the various stages and circumstances of life. As the adoption of the tool progresses, the Healthy City Ecosystem will engage with innovative wearable-technology manufacturers and app developers to build connections between the repository and residents —  providing the option to incorporate residents’ wearable data into their digital tool experience.

By providing residents with a tool that gives access to and information regarding wellness choices, individuals will become partners in their own care.

The success of this activity will be measured by:

  • The number of individuals who use the tool
  • The number of service referrals completed by the tool
  • The number of service referrals which result in services accessed
  • The number of individuals participating in volunteer activities

Activity 4 – Supporting Devices and Technical Infrastructure

Finally, supporting the previous three activities is the physical infrastructure and technologies. Key to the philosophy of open government is the physical mechanisms for residents to access services at times, locations and in languages convenient to them. It is often assumed that all individuals have equal access or aptitude to use digital tools. However, the two target populations mentioned above — older adults and newcomers — often have barriers to making the best use of digital tools.

This activity will revolve around the assessment of physical technology interventions for these two populations to determine how they will need to connect to remove barriers to health access and promote two-way information sharing. Some devices under consideration for provisioning are wearables and digital assistants that leverage sensors and artificial intelligence. However, with the exponential growth of data, information and technology, future interventions will be assessed and implemented as needed. The supporting broadband infrastructure enabling all of these technologies will be evaluated and provisioned to ensure it has the capability to deliver the City’s ambitious goals.

To decrease loneliness among older adults, the City of Edmonton will assess and provide the technologies and training that increase comfort, self-care and safety in their homes as well as reduce barriers to community inclusion. Infrastructure includes digital assistants, robotic animals, video chat, wearables for biometric monitoring and sensors as well as other devices. The City of Edmonton desires that older adults have the independence and safety to remain living in their homes and the knowledge and mechanisms to communicate with their loved ones and care providers both in-person and digitally. Loved ones and care providers will also be assured that appropriate supports are in place to ease worries and reduce the time, stress and isolation associated with family care.

To increase a sense of belonging with newcomers, the City of Edmonton will assess and provision the technologies to address the critical barriers newcomers experience. The City will ensure that newcomers have access to the digital devices (e.g., kiosks) and, most importantly, training to become aware of and use the multitude of community services available to assist them with healthcare, education, accessible transportation and financial management. To remove some of the barriers to communication, infrastructure could include in-ear real-time translation devices and devices that enable app-delivered language training. The City of Edmonton’s goal is to build a relationship of trust between residents, their government and their neighbours through the understanding of languages, cultures and other social circumstances. Edmonton is a city of communities and will create a pathway for neighbours and the community to help both our long-time and new residents have a stronger sense of belonging.

The City of Edmonton recognizes that there may be overlap between the two populations; some may fall into both the newcomer and the older adult categories. Although this may present some complexity regarding measurement and analysis, residents will be provided with the digital devices and appropriate training based on their specific needs.

The success of this activity will be measured by:

  • Number of individuals who adopt the technologies
  • Number of service referrals completed by the connected technology
  • Number of service referrals which result in services accessed
  • Number of residents serviced through the interventions

Big Data Technologies in Consideration

As part of this approach, the City of Edmonton will place special emphasis on technical solutions and standards that can be replicated at reduced cost and effort by other municipalities. The Health Data Repository will be interoperable and designed with an emphasis on best practices in open architecture, open data and data governance standards. Some of the open source architecture considerations include SMACK — Spark, Mesos, Akka, Cassandra and Kafka (all of the components big data architecture) —  identity management solutions and blockchain to enable machine learning and advanced analytics.  

Scope and Size

Although the full set of projects to be developed over the next five years is significant, our strategy is to take specific, purposeful steps that enable early adoption, measurement, refinement and expansion. Summer 2018 will see the development of the program structure and refinement of the final proposal as well as implementation of pilot projects with the initial stakeholders. The refinement will include further study, identification, baselining of the early deployments and the assurance of privacy and data security.

The City of Edmonton will tailor the services for this approach to the specific populations identified for any intervention. For example, the City and its partners may choose to work in one neighbourhood to assist seniors and in another neighbourhood to assist newcomers. Each of these activities will then be scaled geographically and functionally, with continuous measurement and refinement.

The City’s aim is to have the small successes of the activities delivered through constant change management and communication, creating awareness throughout the community. As successes are communicated, the activities will grow through requests from the community stakeholders asking to join and the technology companies requesting to become part of the service offering.

The approach will thus become a “living lab” that enables the roll out and testing of technology, processes and physical interventions while measuring the results quickly and accurately at a neighbourhood level. Research and development organizations will use the large datasets together with health analytics to support their research. Health technology companies will leverage the living lab to deploy and test technologies in controlled areas of the city and gain immediate insights on the results that the technologies are having on the health of the residents to refine their products.

Please describe the ways in which your preliminary proposal supports your community’s medium and long-goals, strategies and plans.

The ambitious goals outlined in this proposal go well beyond the City of Edmonton as an organization and include the broader stakeholder community.

Goal one is aligned to the following community initiatives:

  • The City of Edmonton’s Smart City Strategy emphasizes the importance of embracing the perspectives of residents, government, industry, and academia to best achieve City Council’s strategic plan (The Way Ahead), deliver programs and services, and provide an exceptional quality of life for residents.
  • The City of Edmonton’s Business Technology Strategy provides a path to embrace partnerships to capitalize on the information and technological capabilities of Edmontonians, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, businesses and the community.  
  • The Health City Initiative, a cluster-led economic development initiative for health, seeks to build momentum to achieve the collective vision and common goals emerging from across the public, private, not-for-profit and philanthropic sectors, while leveraging the investments by these partners in the system.
  • As part of the Edmonton Public School Board’s (EPSB) 2014-2018 District Strategic Plan, EPSB seeks to “enhance public education through communication, engagement and partnerships”.  A specific outcome is to establish community partnerships to “provide supports and services to foster growth and success of students and families”.

Goal two is aligned to the following community initiatives:

  • Alberta Health has set community-based care as a goal to be achieved by directing investments into community-based care services and improving the delivery of primary healthcare services, and by ensuring Albertans receive healthcare appropriate to their needs.
  • The Alberta Mental Health Review Committee’s report, “Valuing Mental Health: Next Steps”, called for the transformation of Alberta’s addiction and mental health sector to become more person-centred, focus on early intervention, treat mental health, and become more coordinated and integrated.
  • The Alberta Innovates 2016-2017 Annual Report has three goals for its health services stream. Those goals support strategic investments, develop platforms which support the provincial health ecosystems and strengthen collaboration between partners to accelerate results.

Goal three is aligned to the following community initiatives:

  • The Alberta Ministry of Community and Social Services strengthens existing programs through cross-ministry and multi-stakeholder initiatives, helping all Albertans feel a sense of belonging to their community.
  • The Edmonton’s People Plan aims to improve Edmonton’s livability and make Edmonton Canada’s most livable city: connected, inclusive, safe, attractive and sustainable.
  • EndPoverty Edmonton (EPE), a City and community-based initiative, seeks to convene, coordinate and broker innovative partnerships; advocate for policy changes; and build the capacity of Edmontonians to take action to end poverty. EPE states that Edmontonians experience poverty when they lack or are denied economic, social and cultural resources to have a quality of life that sustains and facilitates full and meaningful participation in the community.
  • The Age Friendly Edmonton Initiative, a City and community-based initiative, intends to build a city that values, respects and actively supports the wellbeing of seniors, where age is not a barrier to access services, programs, businesses or facilities.

Our proposal is ambitious because it not only seeks to connect all of these initiatives, but it endeavours to accelerate their achievement.

Please describe your community’s readiness and ability to successfully implement your proposal.

Over the previous five years, the City of Edmonton has demonstrated national leadership with regards to Smart City initiatives and complex projects.  

The following are a sample of successful projects:

  1. The City has led the country in understanding the value of combining open data, public engagement and analytics. The Open City Initiative is a complex program of work streams and projects spanning all 30+ internal business areas and extending to external organizations through outreach and partnerships. The accomplishments of this initiative are internationally recognized.
  2. With the development and implementation of Canada’s first measurable Open Data Strategy, Edmonton has shown its commitment to transparency and openness. Edmonton’s Open Data Portal was launched in 2010 and has grown to over 1,700 assets with more than 50 million annual transactions. As another first, Edmonton’s City Council was the first in the United States and Canada to adopt the International Open Data Charter. This adoption yet again demonstrates the unprecedented commitment to accessibility and transparency by our leaders.
  3. The City of Edmonton’s Analytics Center of Excellence (ACE) is world-renowned for delivering complex and multi-disciplinary projects. ACE has completed projects of global significance, including a contextual analysis of crime, development of a human trafficking identification tool, and an optimization model for snow plowing routes. The optimization and analytics models developed through these projects are made available to other municipalities under the Creative Commons licence and are available as open-source code.
  4. The City of Edmonton was the Canadian pilot for Bloomberg Philanthropies “What Works Cities” Initiative. What Works Cities guided the City of Edmonton in laying the groundwork for strong citywide data practices, improved data management and increased capacity related to data literacy and storytelling for data-driven decision-making. This work has established a foundation to improve the customer experience for the community, elevate the City of Edmonton’s data practice organization wide, and continue to build capacity for data-driven decision-making.
  5. The ACTIVE-AURORA initiative is a unique partnership among the three levels of government (Transport Canada, Alberta Transportation, City of Edmonton), academic institutions, and several industry partners to deliver and operate the first connected-vehicle testbed network in Canada, and thus a major step toward achieving increased safety and efficiency in smart transportation. This program demonstrates our willingness and capacity to work across agencies for the benefit of all Canadians.

These projects were overseen by a robust governance structure that ensured success. The same governance structure will be applied to the ambitious goals of this proposal. Additionally, the team responsible for the global recognition of the projects related to open government, open data and intelligent community is the same team that will be accountable for delivering this approach.

Under the portfolio of the Chief Information Officer, the Smart City Program was established in 2016 with a vision to create a resilient, livable, and workable city that eliminates silos, not only in the City organization but also in the community by developing an innovation ecosystem. The Smart City Program Team includes a Director of Digital Enablement, who is supported by 12 staff. The Director is a dedicated senior position with the accountability to manage and enable organizational and community-wide innovation initiatives. This team includes Managers for Smart City, Innovation and Open Data who focus on building partnerships, implementing disruptive technologies, taking risks and bringing value to the organization.

The Smart City Program is governed by an Executive Steering Committee with leadership representation from every City department. Governance is augmented by an External Advisory Committee with 15 representatives of numerous broad organizations. To further reflect our growing innovation ecosystem, additional stakeholders will be added to the External Advisory Committee. Various private organizations, Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council, Mennonite Center for Newcomers, Catholic Social Services, Alberta Health, and Alberta Health Services are being considered for membership.

The City of Edmonton is a world leader in leveraging data, technology and innovation to improve quality of life for its residents. In addition to being named Canada’s Most Open City and a Top 7 Intelligent Community of the Year, Edmonton is the most recent winner of the Gold WeGo Smart Sustainable City Award, the first Canadian city to win the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge award, and the first Canadian pilot of Johns Hopkins University’s Centre for Government Excellence What Works Cities initiative.

As past experience has shown, the City of Edmonton has the capacity to conceive, manage and deliver innovative and transformative projects as detailed in this proposal. Mayor Don Iveson and Edmonton’s City Council enthusiastically endorse this approach as it directly aligns with Council’s current and upcoming strategic plans. In addition, the City of Edmonton has received letters of support from key stakeholders in the Healthy City Ecosystem including Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Blue Cross, Edmonton Public Library, Edmonton Community Foundation, Institute of Health Economics, SAGE (Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton), Oliver Primary Care Network, TELUS and post-secondary institutions.

The City of Edmonton recognizes the sensitivity that residents have regarding the privacy of their data, whether it be general, health, etc.  In recognition of this, the City of Edmonton has met with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta to discuss the need for transparency and accountability as well as a complete understanding of the legal authority as it pertains to the program. Ongoing consultation and involvement will continue through subsequent phases of this project.  

In summary, the City of Edmonton has a world-class team with proven results to drive future outcomes. Complex, multi-stakeholder and multi-dimensional projects have already been delivered by this team in partnership with all levels of government, industry and residents. The City of Edmonton will continue to use these proven mechanisms and processes to deliver project excellence.

Describe your plan for using the $250,000 grant, should you be selected as a finalist. Provide a breakdown of spending categories and an accompanying rationale.

A business approach will describe the City’s use of the Phase 2 funds through the development of a defensible and comprehensive business case. This will include components that ensure due diligence has been taken regarding expenditures. The work will be completed by the Smart City Team with the funds allocated for specialized services related to the business case development. This includes facilitation, legal reviews, design services, and privacy and security assessments. Funds will also be allocated for the physical infrastructure to complete the proposed pilot.

The business approach will include the following components. Percentage allocation of the $250,000 grant is included.

  1. Complete a Feasibility Assessment (10 percent) – Additional feasibility studies will be completed to understand the legal, regulatory, and privacy and security parameters that will need to be understood and addressed through the delivery of the three activities.
  2. Develop a Comprehensive Financial Model (10 percent) – The City of Edmonton will develop business plans, identifying partners and expected benefits, and detailed project plans, including detailed cost estimates and proposed implementation schedules. These plans will identify milestones for when successful outcomes are expected to be achieved. The City will also establish reporting processes to track and report outcomes.
  3. Determine the Information Sharing Framework (10 percent) – A critical dependency to the success of this approach is the development of a framework that considers the relevant legislation and practical implementation considerations with respect to data sharing. Specialized expertise will used to work with relevant stakeholders to address this gap. The confidentiality and privacy of citizens’ data is paramount to this approach.
  4. Formalize a Governance Model (5 percent) – The City’s existing program governance structure will be leveraged to establish accountability and oversight on all program activities, and this structure will include stakeholders key to the program’s success.
  5. Continue Engagement (25 percent) – Activities will involve consulting the public to ensure their needs are being taken care of and that they have trust in the security and privacy of their data.
  6. Develop an Approach to Baseline Data (5 percent) – An approach will be developed to establish baselines for all outcomes and measures, considering social return on investment and its applicability to the project.
  7. Deliver a Small Scale Pilot (25 percent) – An appropriate pilot project will be completed that will test hypotheses and validate the achievement of outcomes identified within this proposal.
  8. Develop an Implementation Plan (10 percent) –  The implementation plan will include work streams, defined deliverables, costing, timelines, measures and outcomes. Our agile approach will be flexible and able to adjust course, consider new technologies and the evolving needs of Edmonton’s diverse population.

The City of Edmonton will invest an amount equal to or greater than the grant from Infrastructure Canada. Several of our partners will invest in the development of the proposal as well. In addition to the $250,000 grant, the City of Edmonton’s current capital budgeting cycle (2019-2022) earmarks significant resources for the development of data and technology experimentation and innovation.

Describe the partners that are or will be involved in your proposal. Where partners are not yet determined, describe the process for selecting them.

The City’s partnership approach targets three broad partner categories: public sector organizations, (the provincial government, health agencies, post-secondaries, school boards, etc.), private sector partners (technology solution providers, project implementation contractors, telecom connectivity providers, etc.), and not-for-profit organizations that act as liaisons for target populations.  

Through a collaborative and inclusive process, the City will continue to have significant discussions, feedback and commitment from the partners described below.

Category 1: Public Sector Organizations

Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) will assist the City of Edmonton in determining our initial target populations and mechanisms to monitor results. All three organizations have been strong partners through the development of this proposal, leveraging collaborative research linking health to our outcomes. AHS has confirmed its involvement in the measurement of broader health outcomes and identification of the neighbourhoods and demographic groups that will be our initial focus.

Select Primary Care Networks will be more directly involved in the recommendation and implementation of specific interventions within neighbourhoods and provide a clear path to access our target demographics.

The activities identified will require policy interpretation, and all data will be subject to constant oversight to ensure that residents’ information is anonymized, protected and secured.

Post-secondary institutions and the Edmonton Public Library have provided assistance in developing this proposal and will continue to participate, particularly in designing and implementing the solutions. The School Boards are keen partners as they will be able to provide key anonymized social indicator data from the school systems that can indicate challenges at a neighbourhood level including school attendance and children with diagnosed learning and behaviour challenges.

Category 2: Private Sector Organizations

Health City will provide guidance and alignment with the private sector health technology industry including identifying other funding partners. Private sector organizations, such as Alberta Blue Cross and TELUS have provided letters of support to the City.

Edmonton’s Smart City Program will act as the lead in developing and managing the partnerships through agreements and memorandums of understanding. Additional organizations may be brought into the program during the final proposal phase and during project implementation. These relationships will follow the City’s established procurement processes through requests for information, pre-qualification and proposal — all of which will include opportunities for partners to contribute to the program.  

Category 3: Not-for-Profit Organizations

In addition to the engagement activities completed and planned, the City of Edmonton will continually consult with organizations who represent the specific interests of the initial target populations. Some of the organizations who have already provided input and commitment to this approach include SAGE (Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton), Boyle Street Community Services, the Bissell Centre and the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society.

Please provide, if and only required, confidential third party information. Information provided in this section will be exempt from the requirement to be posted.


Provide a 200-word summary of your preliminary proposal.

A Smart City is first and foremost a Healthy City.

Recognizing urbanization and the increasing role residents’ health affects and is affected by City services, the City of Edmonton proposes that municipal-level intervention is necessary. The City of Edmonton is facilitating the creation of a Healthy City Ecosystem (a partnership of government, industry, academia and residents) to work collaboratively to provide integrated, community-based health support. Addressing social determinants of health, such as connectedness, loneliness and sense of belonging is an innovative, transformational approach, shifting the focus from treating symptoms to one of prevention.

A smart cities approach will enable the creation of a single Health Data Repository, connecting disparate datasets from the stakeholders and the data collected by new technologies, ensuring anonymity and integration to facilitate assessment, analytics and data mining. Residents will access the new municipal health support through a digital tool and devices, allowing them to identify and access additional services, relationships and technologies to improve their individual health and connectedness.

Provide a link to the online location where you will post the full version of your application.


Exact Link: https://smartcities.edmonton.ca/edmontons-approach/#application

In accordance with your governance structure, provide evidence of the commitment to your preliminary proposal from your community’s leadership. This can be a letter of support with signatures from your mayor(s), chief(s) or equivalent or a council resolution, a band council resolution.

Letter from Mayor Iveson

Please identify the point of contact for the application.

Name: Wendy Gnenz
Title and Affiliation: Branch Manager and Chief Information Officer, Open City and Technology, City of Edmonton
Phone Number: 780-293-6766
Email Address: wendy.gnenz@edmonton.ca

Read the Privacy Notification, Consent and Release form, and Communications Protocol and indicate your agreement.

In agreement.

Please provide the following information about your organization.

2017 full time equivalents:

  • Number of Total FTEs – 11,048
  • Percentage of total FTEs devoted to innovation – 2.25

2017 operating and capital budget:

  • Total operating budget : $2,186,508,000
  • Percentage of total operating budget devoted to innovation : 2%
  • Total capital budget: $2,793,338,000
  • Percentage of total capital budget devoted to innovation : 3.35%

Please select the focus area of your preliminary proposal.

  • Empowerment and inclusion
  • Healthy living and recreation

Select all the community system/service areas expected to be implicated in your primary proposal.

  • Economic development
  • Education and training
  • Emergency services and enforcement
  • Land use and planning
  • Public health
  • Social services

Select all the technologies expected to be implicated in your preliminary proposal.

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Assistive technology
  • Big data analytics
  • Cloud computing
  • Enterprise solutions
  • Health or medical technology
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Mobile applications
  • Networks
  • Open data platforms
  • Sensors
  • Wearables
  • Other: Data lake


We are pleased to share these letters of support we have received from some of our Healthy City Ecosystem partners.

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