The smart city concept is innovation in urbanism. Innovation is transformative, demanding the involvement of the public based on a belief that those who will be impacted by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. But smart city initiatives raise complex technical, privacy, economic, and intellectual property issues unlike those the public has been presented with before. This paper explores how Canadian municipalities are approaching this challenge by coding and analyzing applications to Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge (SCC). The analysis reveals, among other findings, that municipalities engaged citizens directly as well as their representatives, leveraged previously-conducted engagement and conducted new engagement, and employed a range of engagement activities online and offline. Recommendations to Infrastructure Canada and municipal planners highlight the need for more public input on the technology solutions proposed, increased attention to the digital divide during engagement, and citizen involvement in all stages of open innovation.
Key words: Smart Cities Challenge, public engagement, open innovation