Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)


Smart Cities. Smart Governance. Civic Labs on digital governance and intellectual property at Quayside

Nov 19, 2018

A 12 acre Smart City on Toronto’s Waterfront?

By: Stephanie Chow

There are many aspects of city-building that are very familiar – whether we’re talking affordability, sustainability, transportation, or urban design – we’re familiar with the issues at hand.
A smart city introduces something new, and its digital. Smart cities have internet-connected sensors that collect data, computers that receive, analyze, and store data, and services that respond to the data. The idea is that smart cities use data to provide services that make life in the city better.
Smart city topics are new ground for Waterfront Toronto (and for city planning discussions more broadly), provoking the need to have new conversations about opportunities, risks, and the consequences associated with different choices.
Waterfront Toronto is working with some of Canada’s leading thinkers – governments, academics, industry leaders, advocacy organizations, and others – to ensure that decisions related to the digital future of Quayside includes a solid understanding of choices and consequences.  But that alone is not enough. Waterfront Toronto’s commitment to working in the public interest means that public feedback about these choices and consequences is also critical.

For the last several months, Waterfront Toronto and our Innovation and Funding Partner, Sidewalk Labs, have been convening public discussions on topics related to planning Quayside. The next step in our public engagement is to convene conversations on topics that are newer and less familiar to many, topics that break new ground in public policy, such as public digital infrastructure, data collection and ownership, cyber ethics, privacy and intellectual property.

The Opportunity

The Sidewalk Toronto project presents opportunities while also presenting cause for questions. Our cities are constantly presented with real time, real life challenges. Data can be used to help us meet those challenges and address them in an informed way. We must, however, be conscious of potential risks, such as algorithmic bias, in order to protect ourselves and enjoy the best possible outcome for our city.

This is why events such as this Civic Lab are important. They will help to shape the direction of the Sidewalk Toronto project so that the great opportunities are realized, while the challenges are met. As far as the plans for the project are concerned, nothing is set in stone. Ideas are still being put forward and proposals are still being debated. But this will require informed public engaged and input for all stakeholders, including the public.
Toronto and Canada are uniquely position to lead the international community in the realm of the digital economy, urban data driven innovation and data governance. But it will take hard work, awareness and active engagement - from everyone.

Civic Labs

Civic Labs

To begin, these Civic Labs will be dedicated invite only consultations. This discussion format provides the opportunity for Waterfront Toronto, project team members, tech experts, and leaders from governments, academic institutions, the private and non-profit sectors to productively share their thoughts, provide feedback on considerations applicable to the Quayside project, and answer relevant questions.

We are committed to engaging the wider public in the Civic Lab discussion and the event will be livestreamed through the Waterfront Toronto Facebook page and will be archived on Waterfront Toronto’s YouTube channel. Check our channels for the livestream link on November 23, 2018 starting at 12:30 p.m.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaterfrontToronto/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/WaterfrontToronto 

For more information on Sidewalk Toronto, visit the website

post contributor

  • Stephanie Chow

    Stephanie Chow was previously the communications and public engagement coordinator for the Quayside project.