Announcing the Healthy Neighbourhoods Data Challenge Winner

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The Winner

MaRS Innovation Challenges is pleased to announce that Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) has won the Healthy Neighbourhoods Data Challenge. Our expert panel of judges agreed that WDGPH’s Built for Health Index (BHI) — an easy-to-use tool that analyzes and ranks neighbourhoods for their ability to foster health — was exemplary in its use of data sets, data sources, and analytical methodologies to improve our understanding of physical environments and connections to health outcomes.

As the winner, WDGPH receives $50,000 to implement its solution in other communities across Canada. Congratulations to the winning team and to all of the Phase 1 finalists for their impressive submissions.


About the Built for Health Index

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) is honoured to present the Built for Health Index (BHI), a user-friendly tool that measures indicators linked to healthy built environments. The BHI can help municipal planners, neighbourhood advocates and public health experts better understand areas of strength and opportunity in their communities, and how the design of their neighbourhoods impacts health.

WDGPH developed the BHI incorporating the expertise of public health and municipal planning professionals to create a tailored measure of healthy community design features. The project involved the collection, analysis and consolidation of physical design data, remote-sensed environmental data, and residents’ perceptions regarding neighbourhood design (walkability), transportation networks (active transportation), natural environments (green/blue spaces) and food environments (food systems) into one simple measure.

The BHI is comprised of 23 metrics from a variety of scalable and accessible data sources, including the Statistics Canada Census of Population, the Ontario Road Network, NASA satellite imagery, and local municipal databases. The BHI output produces a score ranging from 1 to 10 for each area of interest, visually depicted by a light to dark colour gradient. A score of 1 (light) indicates the area was not built to encourage healthy behaviours, while a score of 10 (dark) indicates the opposite.

The BHI can be replicated in other communities, regardless of size, if the team has access to relevant data sources, data analysis, GIS and built environment expertise and skills, as well as strong community partnerships. The BHI Creation and Implementation Guide was created to support interested communities in mobilizing the tool. It includes extensive supporting materials and templates, including: a spreadsheet that automatically calculates weighted z-scores and BHI values, and an interactive Power BI template for easy-end use consumption.

Using the BHI output, partner agencies can work together to make evidence-informed decisions about how communities are designed to support health.


Want to get in touch with our winner? E-mail our team at

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