Smart Cities

The Issue

Municipal governments are increasingly turning to comprehensive electronic data collection as a purported means to increase the quality of both public services and the lives of their residents. So-called “smart cities” aim to make pervasive use of data from information and communication technologies to shape every aspect of urban life. The smart city concept is predicated on ubiquitous wireless broadband and the embedding of computerised sensors widely in as many aspects as possible of our public and private spheres.

Why It Matters

Championed by large technology companies and embraced, often uncritically, by well-intentioned politicians and government staff, the “smart cities” approach is dependent on a vast network of sensors -- millions of electronic ears, eyes and noses – that make possible widespread and permanent surveillance by whomever has access to the data.  This raises questions of privacy but even more importantly questions of the public’s right and ability to govern what data are collected, how they are used, and who owns and controls them.

Our Work

The Centre has created the Toronto Open Smart Cities Forum. Our role is to provide information and analysis, undertake public education, and foster public discussion, openness and transparency with respect to Toronto’s new “smart city” initiative – Sidewalk Toronto– a joint initiative of Google’s Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto– the federal/provincial/municipal body responsible for overseeing the development of Toronto’s waterfront.

Click here for information about the Forum – its work and how you can be involved.

Resources

Report

Unmasking the Halloween Agreement: What’s Up with Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs?

By Nick De Carlo, Gene Desfor, and David Robertson

January 30, 2020

Podcast

Is Privacy Possible in the proposed Sidewalk Toronto or any “Smart City”?

Google-affiliate Sidewalk Labs is selling a vision of a “smart city” future for a section of Toronto’s port lands.

Past Event

Can social media hate, lies, and harassment be regulated? How?

Panelists: Carissima Mathen, Ravi Vatrapu

Moderator: James L. Turk

Past Event

Is Privacy Possible in the proposed Sidewalk Toronto or any “Smart City”?

Google-affiliate Sidewalk Labs is selling a vision of a “smart city” future for a section of Toronto’s port lands.

Blog Post

A public-partnership for secrecy? Waterfront Toronto’s ‘smart city’ ongoing discussions with Sidewalk Labs

The Google-affiliated American company Sidewalk Labs’ 1500-page proposal for a smart city on Toronto’s eastern waterfront has received p

By Mariana Valverde