Navigant Research Blog

New Federal Government Support Will Accelerate Canada’s Growing Smart City Market

— June 16, 2017

Recently, the Canadian federal government announced it has pledged to launch a Smart Cities Challenge Fund, proposing $300 million over 11 years for Infrastructure Canada to implement the program. The funding will support the deployment of clean and digitally connected technology that can improve life in cities and is modeled similarly to the US Smart City Challenge (won by Columbus, Ohio).

Until recently, Canada has lacked a national smart city framework, leaving major cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal to develop their own climate action plans and digital infrastructure projects without significant federal guidance or funding assistance. Over one-third of Canada’s population lives in these three cities, and over 80% of its overall population is urbanized, making the improvement of city service delivery a crucial issue in the country. Highlights of key smart city initiatives from these three cities include:

  • Vancouver: In March 2015, the City Council of Vancouver voted unanimously to develop and implement a 100% Renewable City Strategy by 2050. This aims to make the city emissions free in both the energy and transportation sectors.
  • Toronto: Canada’s largest city, Toronto (Greater Toronto Area population of 6.4 million), is targeting an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels). The city has allocated nearly $100 million for energy conservation measures, renewable energy projects, and retrofits of city facilities. Toronto is also expected to be the site of Sidewalk Labs’ Digital City project, part of Google’s vision to reinvent cities from the Internet up.
  • Montreal: The Montreal Smart and Digital City Action Plan aims to position Montreal as one of the world’s smartest cities. The action plan introduces 70 projects divided into five focus areas: urban mobility, direct services to citizens, quality of life, democratic life, and economic development. This is an open data project with an ultra high speed, multiservice telecom infrastructure.

Federal Government Stepping Up with Funding

Three rounds of funding are expected to take place in Canada, with the first round set for fall 2017. Each round of Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge will include:

  • One $50 million prize in funding for a large city
  • Two $10 million prizes for midsize cities
  • One $5 million prize for a small community
  • One $5 million prize for an indigenous community

Prime Minister Trudeau has pledged to link infrastructure with an innovation agenda, and the Smart Cities Challenge will help Canada achieve that goal. Canada has evolved into one of the leading countries in the world in terms of building infrastructure through public-private partnerships (P3s), using this model to fund light rail lines, hospitals, jails, and water systems, among other infrastructure. The country’s high utilization of P3s for infrastructure development combined with the new funding available in the Smart Cities Challenge positions Canada to elevate its attractiveness to key suppliers in the smart city market. Its actions also potentially lift the country from its current follower position into a leadership role in global smart city development.


The Future of Smart Parking Is Integration with Automated Technology

— January 26, 2017

Electric Vehicle 2The smart parking industry continues to evolve as an increasing number of cities struggle with traffic congestion and inadequate parking availability. While the deployment of sensor technologies continues to be core to the development of smart parking, a wide variety of other technology innovations are also enabling more adaptable systems—including cameras, wireless communications, data analytics, induction loops, smart parking meters, and advanced algorithms.

Moving Toward Automation

The future of the smart parking market is expected to be significantly influenced by the arrival of automated vehicles (AVs). Several cities around the world are already beginning to trial self-parking vehicles, specialized AV parking lots, and robotic parking valets.

For example, in Boulder, Colorado, ParkPlus is working on deploying the first fully automated parking garage in the Western United States through Boulder’s PearlWest mixed-use development. The company’s automated parking system uses lasers to scan cars and a robotic valet to park the vehicles. Vehicles are transported by a robotic dolly that lifts and transfers them to storage racks. Using this system, up to 4 times as many cars can be parked in the same amount of space as a traditional garage (since there is no need for extra space in between cars). The automated system is expected to deliver vehicles within 3 to 5 minutes of a retrieval request.

Development and Deployment

Somerville, Massachusetts has partnered with global automaker Audi to develop self-driving and self-parking cars. In 2018, a small fleet of cars with piloted parking technology will be deployed to test self-parking capabilities with a specialized nearby parking garage. The idea is that having cars that self-park will help improve traffic congestion considerably as riders could be dropped off in front of their destination and the car would park itself and minimize the time spent taking up space on the road (as opposed to drivers circling several blocks continuously looking for a space). In 2020, phase two of the project is expected to commence with the deployment of a full fleet of self-parking Audi cars. By 2030, the self-parking garage is targeting availability to the broader AV market. It is estimated that parking garages specifically designed for self-parking cars can take up 60% less space than traditional lots (as cars can park much closer together and elevators and stairs are no longer required).

Leading smart cities are recognizing that smart parking infrastructure (i.e., sensors and communications networks) can be leveraged to help enable cars of the future to park themselves. AV fleets are also expected to fundamentally change the way cars are used, affecting how often and where future vehicles will be parked. For more information on the smart parking industry, check out Navigant Research’s recently released report, Smart Parking Systems.


Blog Articles

Most Recent

By Date


Clean Transportation, Digital Utility Strategies, Electric Vehicles, Energy Technologies, Policy & Regulation, Renewable Energy, Smart Energy Practice, Smart Energy Program, Transportation Efficiencies, Utility Transformations

By Author

{"userID":"","pageName":"Smart Infrastructure","path":"\/tag\/smart-infrastructure","date":"3\/21\/2018"}