Phase 1 of the Healthy Neighbourhoods Data Challenge is open for submissions until October 24, 2019.

This challenge is aimed at identifying data sets, data sources and methodologies that will provide a deeper understanding of the physical environment and improve health outcomes in our neighbourhoods.

Urban sprawl and the convenience of various technologies has led to increasingly sedentary lifestyles, reduced physical activity and easier access to unhealthy food. Studies in Canada have also shown that chronic diseases and conditions linked to unhealthy living are on the rise.

Improving neighbourhoods to reverse this trend is the obvious answer — but this requires a better understanding of our physical environment to do this effectively and efficiently. In other words, we need to assess critical elements of our neighbourhoods that have positive or negative effects on both individual residents and the larger community.

MaRS is looking for innovators to identify and/or create new data sets, data sources and methodologies to improve our understanding of physical environments and promote healthy living. The relationship between space and the health of residents is complex. However, with the right design fueled by the right data, we can improve our neighbourhoods by giving people healthier choices.

Innovators will choose neighbourhood design elements, sub-elements, and design metrics, as well as provide data (where each data point maps to a location and time). The five neighbourhood design elements and their sub-elements include:

  • Walkability: Urban/rural comparison, Street/community design, Other
  • Food environment: Food sources. Food establishment turnover, Other
  • Active transportation: Transit infrastructure, Cycling infrastructure, Walking infrastructure, Other
  • Green/blue spaces: Green spaces, Blue spaces, Street-side features, Other
  • Air quality: Indoor air quality, Outdoor air quality, Other

Submissions will be evaluated by an external panel of expert judges. Up to five $10,000 awards will be given to each challenge finalist for use in the continued development of their submission during Phase 2.

Data from Phase 1 submissions will be compiled and used to generate a publicly accessible visualization tool. For more information or to provide a submission, visit