Don Iveson


933,000 (2019)

Lead Innovation Officers

Susan Coward, Troy Shewchuk, Daryl Croft, Niki Anderson

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Service current obligations

  • Improve resident outcomes

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • a nascent culture of innovation within the municipal administration influenced by the growth of the innovation community around the city

Spotlight on innovation in Edmonton

The City of Edmonton has created a human-centered framework for using social innovation to improve urban wellness. Social innovation is about creating and testing solutions to difficult problems and bringing a diverse group of voices together. The City begins with ethnographic research to understand the issues of homelessness and poverty from the perspective of marginalized people. They then brainstorm with the community, fine-tune ideas and form prototype teams with community members and leaders to test concepts based on the feedback of people directly experiencing these challenges. Promising solutions are developed through new and enhanced partnerships.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Edmonton does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to 24% of cities surveyed, Edmonton approaches innovation capacity in specific policy areas/domains.

Policy areas that Edmonton is focused on

Urban wellness
Internal service delivery

Urban Wellness: Edmonton is using a social innovation approach to answer questions such as "How do we best meet the needs of people who are highly marginalized?", "How do we support thriving communities?", "How do we plan wellness services that consider the cumulative effects on neighborhoods and community?"

Internal service delivery: The City is also using human-centered design in their operational services to understand what customers are trying to accomplish, the pain-points of their experience, and redesign the internal service delivery.

Policy areas by number of cities

Edmonton utilizes 6 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Communication officer
Community engagement staff

Although Edmonton does not have a formal innovation team, the city has policy-specific and business area specific innovation leads who lead project teams in specific areas of business focusing on long-term re-thinking.

Innovation roles by number of cities

Edmonton’s innovation work is sprinkled throughout the municipality. Although Edmonton does not have a formal innovation team, the city has innovation leads focusing on long-term rethinking of specific policy and business areas.

Terms Edmonton most associates with innovation

Human-centered design
Data analytics

Edmonton's most common innovation activities

Taking risks and testing new ideas
e.g. prototyping new programs or models to address a persistent city challenge
Promoting data-driven analytics / public data management
e.g. data storage/analytics; open data; big data
Engaging residents in new ways
Developing new solutions based on digital technologies
e.g. use of drones or smart sensors
Facilitating organizational change within the municipality
e.g. silo-busting; new internal performance management; staff training and capacity building on innovation tools or techniques; reforms to contracting or procurement
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, Edmonton has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Municipal budget
Municipal budget
This could include, for instance, City Council approved funds; operating budget; a special funding process (bond, Mayoral special initiative funding, etc.); and participatory budgeting / citizen-selected budgeting.
External funding
External funding
This could include private, philanthropic/non-profit and/or academic/think tank resources.

Activities being funded

Idea generation & brainstorming
Investing in digital systems
Investing in physical infrastructure
Paying for services
47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

Similar to 61% of participating cities in the 2020 survey, Edmonton's funding for innovation capacity is also directed towards training staff and building capacity*. The innovation team in urban wellness hosts and supports ecosystem-building activities including developing the capacity of community-based innovation coaches, funding workshops with social innovation and systemic design practitioners in the community (e.g., equity-centered community design).

*"Training staff and building capacity" is not an option in the 2018 survey, while "Launching or sustaining a project" is not an option in the 2020 survey.

How is innovation measured?

Edmonton has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with private philanthropy, not-for-profit agencies, academia and think tanks, to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data



Government finance

Land use

Built environment

Social welfare/social services

Insufficient data


Waste and sewage

Social inclusion and equity

Economic Development

Labour market and skills


Policing and law enforcement

Environment and climate change

Digital governance

No Response


Public works