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October 02, 2019

How the Advisory Service is helping communities of all sizes across Canada

OpenNorth takes the lead and an open, smart lens for communities from coast, to coast, to coast

The Community Solutions Network works with communities of all sizes, from all areas of the country. Led by Evergreen, with lead technical partner OpenNorth, the Network is currently working with big and mid-sized cities like Montreal, St. Albert or Kelowna, as well as Indigenous, small and remote communities, like Iqaluit, Plessisville or Midland. Regardless of the municipality’s size or needs, the Network helps them navigate the smart city landscape and improve the lives of their residents – whether there are 3,000 or 300,000.

Through the Community Solutions Advisory Service, OpenNorth is operationalizing the Open Smart Cities definition that it developed in their work on Open Smart Cities in 2018. This definition sees an Open Smart City as one where all sectors and residents collaborate in mobilizing data and technologies to develop their communities through fair, ethical, and transparent governance that balances economic development, social progress, and environmental responsibility. 

Open Smart City Definition







The Advisory Service builds upon OpenNorth’s rich history of promoting intra and interjurisdictional data interoperability, policy coherence, and critical insight into data ecosystems. To develop the Advisory Service with a strong grounding in the practical concerns of Canadian cities and communities, OpenNorth brings its experience in the development of data standards, open data strategies, and multi-stakeholder problem identification.

The One-to-One Advisory Service is supported by OpenNorth’s network of leading advisors, academics and practitioners in Canada. These advisors bring unparalleled expertise in disciplines such as geography, geographic information systems (GIS), law, and urban planning, and unique domain knowledge in areas such as social justice, public engagement, and software to communities across Canada. Through this combination of expertise and experience, OpenNorth is bringing values of transparency, accountability, citizen engagement, and interoperability to smart cities.

Who, what, where, when, why… and how.

The One-to-One Advisory Service is a four to six-week process that provides personalized support by sharing knowledge, expertise and guidance to municipal and community leaders to navigate the open smart cities landscape. Concretely, the value for the community is that the Advisory Service will provide, at no cost to the community, a personalized Needs Assessment and a customized Capacity-building Action Plan and Learning Pathway to evaluate the gaps between a community’s current and desired situation and build the capacity needed to implement open smart city solutions. 

From A to Z: How to startFrom A to Z

The first step of the One-to-One Advisory Service is a Needs Assessment interview to gather information on the community’s current needs and challenges. Following the interview, the community will complete a Diagnostic Self-Assessment Questionnaire to capture community-level capacities on a range of Open Smart Cities topics. Communities will then receive  a report card that outlines their capacities across numerous components of the open smart cities domains, which can be completed here, independently and at no cost.

The Advisory Service team will then create a personalized Capacity-building Action Plan (CAP), developed through OpenNorth’s unique open smart city framework. The CAP summarizes OpenNorth’s findings and identifies two actionable Learning Pathways for community leaders to choose from. This is presented to the community during a One-to-One validation interview, when the Advisory team and the community will discuss and validate the stated challenges and needs, with a vision to develop priority areas.

With a common understanding of such priorities, and a preferred Learning Pathway chosen, the Advisory team will produce a final Capacity-building Action Plan. This final document will serve as a guide to the community as they gain access the Learning Management System (LMS). The LMS hosts an unprecedented number of products on key open smart city topics; including a curriculum of basic and advanced courses, guidelines, and templates, which is paired with personalized support from leading professionals and academics.

The proposed Learning Pathway is a critical step of the process as it educates and equips community leaders to navigate the open smart city landscape independently. Once the learning and advisory support is concluded, the community will be asked to complete an endline self-assessment questionnaire to measure pertinent changes in knowledge and capacity.

Shape solutions in your community

The Advisory Service is supported by funding provided by the Government of Canada, and  is designed to support, educate and empower municipal and Indigenous leaders to champion open smart city solutions in their communities and improve the lives of their residents. To work with us to bring innovation to your community, please contact Robin Buxton-Potts at or connect with Canada’s digital hub on smart cities at