Durham Region named one of the Smart21 Communities of the Year for 2021

Whitby, Ontario – Thursday, March 04, 2021

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has recognized Durham Region as one of the Smart21 Communities of the Year for 2021. The awards recognize the world's leading municipalities that are successfully leveraging data and digital assets to develop inclusive and prosperous communities.

This recognition builds on the Region’s Intelligent Communities Framework developed in 2020, and is a great motivator for expanding and growing this work in 2021. Durham’s goals over the next year include setting up a Community Advisory Committee to create a channel for regular engagement with community partners and the public. This committee will also play a key role in developing processes to trial innovation, share data and formalize collaborations.

Some of the intelligent initiatives currently underway in Durham include:

  • CityStudio Durham, a collaborative partnership with our local post-secondary institutions and Durham Regional Police Service. Through an online portal, faculty and students connect to municipal staff to share ideas, develop collaborations and solve real world problems. CityStudio Durham engages students in their future by having them work on challenges in our community while they are in school. This is the opportunity to co-create the Durham of the future. Ten projects were completed in semester one, with an additional 20 projects underway—all with a focus on shaping better communities. This model was developed in Vancouver and is now in 10 cities across Canada, with Durham the first Regional municipality to join the CityStudio network.
  • myDurham 311, a transformational project aimed at improving the customer experience across all Regional channels. This project will enhance the customer journey by creating a consistent, convenient and customized experience, beginning with a clear point of contact—regardless of how customers choose to interact with the Region: online, by phone or in person. Customers will access support and information at the time that is right for them through their channel of choice.
  • COVID-19 Data Tracker, a method to keep the public informed about the risk of COVID-19 and aware of cases in the community. As the pandemic has evolved, the tracker has as well, growing from a website reporting positive cases to a comprehensive tracking and reporting system that equips the community with data to inform decision making.
  • OCI SmartCity Challenge, a partnership with the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) and Spark Centre, that challenged small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to provide a solution to using smart home devices to interact with regional services. The Region will work with the successful company over the next year to develop their solution. This is just the beginning of how the Region hopes to work with businesses on innovative projects in the future.

To learn more about initiatives currently underway in Durham Region, visit durham.ca/IntelligentCommunities. For more information about ICF and the 2021 Smart Communities awards, visit IntelligentCommunity.org.


“Durham’s innovation community ensures our region remains globally competitive. Our region is home to an emerging technology cluster that includes several of Canada's fastest growing technology companies and local business leaders that come together to drive innovation and growth. With a mix of both urban and rural communities, our Intelligent Communities work together to provide exceptional service to residents and businesses using data-driven approaches.”

- John Henry, Regional Chair and CEO

“Durham Region is committed to creating a more connected, inclusive and sustainable region—and our Intelligent Communities framework is helping to ensure we reach that goal. Advancing intelligent initiatives like our plans to expand broadband, will enhance residents’ quality of life and play a critical role in generating employment opportunities and economic growth in Durham.”

- Elaine Baxter-Trahair, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)

“Intelligent communities are more than technology and infrastructure. They are focused on solving problems that matter to residents. This is at the heart of Durham Region’s Intelligent Communities work. Being recognized as one of the top Smart21 Communities is a positive step forward for Durham, and highlights all of the hard work, commitment and innovation underway across the region.”

- Sandra Austin, Director of Strategic Initiatives

Quick Facts

  • The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) is a think tank that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community. To learn more about ICF and the 2021 awards, visit IntelligentCommunity.org.
  • In November 2020, the Region launched the Intelligent Communities Framework that will align its ongoing projects and guide our future direction. The Region has gathered projects and stories that embody its vision for an Intelligent Region. To learn more, visit durham.ca/IntelligentCommunities.

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