Smart Cities Datathon 2021

Build Back Smarter: Digital Solutions for Livable Cities



Cities around the world are still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Recovery will most likely be much longer and more challenging than initially expected, with vaccines only covering parts of the populations and new COVID-19 strains and other diseases emerging concurrently.

Consequently, many cities will have to develop new means of safeguarding citizens’ health and livelihoods in both the shorter- and longer-term, which takes into consideration the need for social distancing, online services, and protective measures for the most vulnerable groups.

Digitalization and online services have been crucial components in supporting healthcare systems and communication with citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Digitalization, online and touchless services, etc. are expected to remain crucial components of future-proofed, resilient societies and help them to “build back smarter.” To be truly resilient and smart, cities need to ensure that the accessibility and inclusivity of solutions are given the highest priority.

Open-source data has proven to be considerably valuable, particularly in the context of the pandemic and in light of the need to increase accessibility and transparency of data. Open-source data can be an important component for countries’ digital transformation to enhance their ability to respond to-, recover from- and transform in the wake of the current pandemic.


With this Smart Cities Datathon, ADB is challenging innovators (startups, students, research organizations and independent researchers, corporate partners) around the world to tackle the following problem statement:

To build back smarter, how can digital solutions be used to make cities more livable with a focus on one or more of the following:

Access to urban services and amenities

How can we ensure that vulnerable groups get reliable access to urban services and amenities?

Participation and influence in the decision-making process

How can we ensure that the voice of vulnerable groups will be heard and taken into consideration in policy discussions and decision-making?

Improving financial access

How can cities digitally enhance their financial mechanisms to provide better support to vulnerable groups (i.e. loans, fintech smart payments, etc.)?


  • Application

    March 17 to May 31, 2021

    Register and submit your Solution Pitch Deck!

  • First 
    Online Voting

    June 1 to 14, 2021

    The Top 10 Solutions will be shortlisted.

  • Mentoring

    June 14 to July 4, 2021

    Guidance from ADB specialists to further improve submissions.

  • Second 
    Online Voting

    July 5 to July 9, 2021

    The Top 4-5 Solutions will be shortlisted.

  • Final

    w/c July 19, 2021

    Finalists to pitch to the Grand Final Panel of Judges


Up to 5 finalist teams will be invited to pitch online in front of a panel of esteemed judges made of representatives from ADB, the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Amazon Web Services, UN-Habitat, Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand, Ramboll, and the Bandung City Government.

More information will follow later on, stay tuned!