A Smart Cities strategy focused on Sault Ste. Marie’s youth

The City of Sault Ste. Marie’s Smart Cities challenge application has been submitted and it is focused on youth.

This competition is an exciting opportunity to address some challenging socio-demographic issues. The City believes we are the best suited to develop and implement a smart cities strategy to address them. Sault Ste. Marie has a history of being a maker-community; we are a trailhead community at the heart of the Great Lakes and we have some important community assets that we are ready to build upon.

The challenge calls on communities to identify a challenge and develop a measurable, ambitious, and achievable plan to address it.

Our challenge statement certainly reflects this:  We are going to reverse population decline and youth outmigration by building the Country’s most advanced youth engagement and data analytics platform which will connect our youth to their community and its opportunities and will encourage them to develop the skill sets that are required by the new economy.

As the lead of the City’s Smart Cities taskforce, I am confident we produced a compelling submission. It was informed by the Community Adjustment Committee’s final report and recommendations (which featured community engagement activities involving nearly 5,000 people), feedback from youth forums held by the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, feedback from open houses held for the Smart Cities challenge, meetings and conference calls with private sector companies and attendance at the Microsoft Smart Cities event in Toronto.

The next step in the process is the announcement of finalists, which is expected to take place in the summer of 2018. Finalists will receive a $250,000 grant to develop a proposal, which is due in the winter of 2019. If the City is selected to move forward, further engagement with the community is planned for the development of the City’s proposal.

It is clear our City has to focus on, engage with and invest in our youth, and this challenge is an opportunity to work with them and build our community together.