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Stantec launches Idea Book on how to ensure a thriving, livable, resilient Toronto

Compilation shares smart city strategies from more than 50 participants at the inaugural Stantec Idea Hackathon

TORONTO, ON; August 8, 2019; TSX, NYSE:STN

These innovative strategies to tackle the future of city planning were recently developed at the Stantec Idea Hackathon, hosted in partnership with The Globe and Mail’s Globe Content Studio and Hackworks.

A diverse range of participants across the public and private sectors and academia were invited to tackle the hackathon’s challenge statement: How can we use technology to ensure Toronto is a thriving, livable, and resilient city for all?

The hackathon brought together teams of industry professionals, students, and city residents over a two-day forum. Competing teams balanced imagination with practicality to contribute to challenging discussions on the future of city building.

The first-place winners PowerWalk, proposed a way to use piezoelectric technology — kinetic floor tiles that capture energy generated through footfall — to better collect pedestrian mobility data. This data could improve mobility by quantifying footfalls. Government agencies could also use this data to better quantify the economic impact of pilot projects, quantify fare evasion, and evaluate lighting needs for urban trails.

“I’ve participated in hackathons in the past, but none quite like this before,” said Melissa Morgan, a Toronto-based creative consultant and member of PowerWalk. “It was a very selfless endeavor – to have the smartest professionals across Toronto get together to create something that betters the community.”

The winning team, PowerWalk, used kinetic floor tiles to capture energy generated through footfall and collect much-needed pedestrian mobility data.

In second place, the 3WeeksOld team devised a social networking platform that connects Toronto newcomers in real time and helps them find jobs, housing, banks, schools, healthcare providers, and more. In third place, the team behind Litmus imagined a network of sensors across the city to measure climate data – the kind of data that can contribute to better city planning, cost-savings, and climate resilient city planning and development.

“Hackathons provide an opportunity for a collision of ideas from people of different backgrounds that ultimately generate fascinating new ideas,” said Kevin Magee, National Director of Intelligent Cloud Emerging Technologies at Microsoft Canada, and a speaker at the event. “The hackathon format, and what Stantec has set up here, is more conducive to actually getting things done than a traditional conference model.”

“I felt inspired by the creative and innovative ideas that participants brought to the table during the hackathon,” said Russ Wlad, executive vice president at Stantec and a finale judge during the event. “Some of these ideas have great potential and we’re already considering how we can further evolve them, while others present interesting concepts worthy of more discussion. The passion and creativity in the room was an incredible thing to be a part of.”

The hackathon event took place at The Globe and Mail Centre, the home of Canada’s national newspaper. Smart cities and planning strategies have been front and centre in Toronto with the recent release of Sidewalk Labs’ Master Innovation Development Plan – one of the most high-profile smart city proposals in the world. Stantec is Sidewalk Labs’ innovation partner for infrastructure design.

Hackathon participants came from a wide variety of sectors including start-ups, consulting firms, graduate programs, and municipal organizations. More than 50 participants formed 10 teams brainstorming ways to use technology to make Toronto a more livable city. Teams competed for a prize package valued at $5,000, and the top three prize-winning teams were chosen by a panel of judges. To get participants’ minds racing, smart city experts – appearing as guest speakers or via a five-person panel – shared their insights into the market shifts and technological advancements impacting our urban spaces. Teams were also guided by a cohort made up of a roster of smart city experts.

“We had so many amazing people attend the Hackathon,” said Nancy MacDonald, Stantec vice president and smart cities lead. “I saw great ideas about resilience, mobility, and welcoming newcomers. These participants are people who want to take city-building to the next level.”

Participating organizations included Alectra Utilities, Allied REIT, City of Toronto, CreateTO, CUTRIC, Evergreen, Enwave, Habitat For Humanity, IBM, Infrastructure Ontario, MaRS, Microsoft Canada, Miovision, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Siemens, Toronto Regional Conservation Authority, Tridel, University of Toronto, and more.

The Stantec Hackathon Idea Book is available for download here.

More information on smart cities at Stantec is available here. See Stantec’s smart cities series produced in partnership with The Globe Content Studio here.


About Stantec

Communities are fundamental. Whether around the corner or across the globe, they provide a foundation, a sense of place and of belonging. That’s why at Stantec, we always design with community in mind.

We care about the communities we serve—because they’re our communities too. This allows us to assess what’s needed and connect our expertise, to appreciate nuances and envision what’s never been considered, to bring together diverse perspectives so we can collaborate toward a shared success.

We’re designers, engineers, scientists, and project managers, innovating together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. Balancing these priorities results in projects that advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.

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