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Exploring new data sources to monitor public health

Innovation in tracking public health

In 2017, MaRS launched the Healthy Behaviour Data Challenge. Participating innovators were asked to identify and leverage new data sources to improve monitoring of indicators of physical activity, sleep, or sedentary behaviour.

After evaluating entries from across the country, eight Canadian proposals were selected, advancing to the second stage of the contest where teams continued development and validation of their concepts. Three proposals were then selected as overall challenge winners.

How the challenge worked

Phase 1: Ideation

Challenge participants identified and proposed new data sources, platforms and methodologies for measuring any number of indicators for physical activity, sleep or sedentary behaviour. Proposals allowed for measurement of indicators at a nation population level and used a list of suggested indicators as a starting point. Finalists selected from Phase 1 received a financial prize ($10,000) and advanced to Phase 2.


Phase 2: Testing

Selected submissions were invited to further develop and validate their Phase 1 concept. The results were compared to existing research, analysis, and/or surveillance outputs from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The most promising solutions were then selected to receive a financial award ($25,000) and an opportunity to explore how the concept could be integrated into public health surveillance systems.