Cities in the Time of COVID-19: After Sidewalk, What is the Future of Smart Tech for Canadian Cities?

In partnership with ULI Toronto. Featuring Siri Agrell, former Executive Director, OneEleven; Brian Kelcey, Founder, State of the City; John Jung, Chairman and Cofounder, Intelligent Community Forum; Jean-Noé Landry, Executive Director, Open North; and Tara Pham, Cofounder, Numina

Brought to you in partnership with Urban Land Institute.

5 Key
Takeaways

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Better procurement is the Quay

Governments and tech companies move at different paces. We need people in government who understand how to work with tech, and tech partners who understand the challenges and nuances of policymaking. We also need better procurement processes that articulate the problem being solved rather than prescribing the solution.

2. The rules need to be set

Post-Sidewalk, panelists agreed that Canada has the opportunity to develop regulations to level the playing field, and set the rules, values and principles to help tech companies bidding for projects, and residents trying to understand whose data is being collected and for what ends.

3. Bridging the digital divide

There is a digital divide across Canada, with some cities better able to take advantage of smart city technologies than others. Bridging this divide, for example, by prioritizing universal broadband access, is a must.

4. Catalyzing tech’s role in community resilience

According to one panelist, “I think one of the saddest things in tech is that our greatest minds went to go develop tech for more clicks. This is actually an opportunity for us to show people who care about technology how to give to their communities and actually like build meaningful things instead.”

5. To what end? At what risk?

Ultimately, to take full advantage of the promise of smart-city technology, and avoid its perils, we need to figure out the issue we are trying to solve for, the trade-offs, and the possible unintended consequences.

Full Panel
Transcript

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to events@canurb.org with “transcription” in the subject line.  

Mary Rowe [00:00:46] Hi, it’s Mary Rowe from CityTalk and CUI and we hoping to hear from Richard Joy, but we seem to have lost him at the very moment. There he is. Richard, over to you, please.

Richard Joy [00:00:55] Thank you very much. Sorry I didn’t get my cue there. But yeah, my name is Richard Joy. I’m the executive director of ULI, Urban Land Institute, Toronto, and very, very pleased to be participating in this co-production of ULI Toronto and the Canadian Urban Institute. It’s not the first time we’ve collaborated, but the first time we collaborated as a webinar. It’s a great pleasure as CUI many of you don’t know, but also happen to be in good times, our roommates, we cohabitate together on St. Patrick’s Street and collaborate on other things and now we get to collaborate on this. This was a very nimble webinar, to say the least. We brought together the idea very quickly in response to the news about the sidewalk lab. Some of you from the you allied world have just heard a webinar, in fact, that just ended minutes ago with DanDoctoroff and Amanda Lang discussing the rationale for the big news that we heard last week. So with that and because we have such a hugely packed amount of material to cover with a big panel, that’s going to be very capably managed by Mary Roy. I don’t know how you do it, but one of five that you doing this week. I’m going to turn it over to you, Mary, and wish you all the best of luck. And I’ll look forward to a great, great discussion. Thank you.

Mary Rowe [00:02:24] Thanks, Richard. We’re always happy to work with our pals that you rely on us. He suggested we are roommates. So in that at the time of cozy, being able to continue to be on good speaking terms with your roommates is a good thing. I’m the president CEO of Riverton student and welcome to City Talk. We’re doing these a couple of times a week. And as Richard suggested, for some reason this is our May Madness week. CUI is involved with five of these every day. So if you’ve got time on your hands midday, why don’t you just join in every day to hear about some pressing topics in urban life? On Wednesday, we’re doing one in partnership with a number of folks, including at York University and the Go to Institute in Berlin. And I actually won’t be on that one, but everybody else will. And we hope you’ll tune in on that. So today, as Richard suggested, we wanted to put up quickly a conversation, a space, to have a conversation to try to make sense of what is the future for smart tech in Canadian cities. And we’re very, very appreciative to have these five agree to come on at such short notice and help us navigate that. This is what city talk seems to be about, is how do we make some sense of meaning and understand what’s going on around us since konbit CUI is put up to other platforms City Watch Canada and City Talks or a city share Canada, both of which are updated daily by partners and volunteers across the country. And if you have time in your hands and you can give us 30 minutes or an hour to watch one of those cities or the city in which you live and identify smart things that are going on in civic things that are happening with the community or business community or different sectors, please volunteer with us and Cauvin response at CUI dot org. These broadcasts emanate from originate rather than here in Toronto, and Toronto is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit Annishnabec, and the Chippewa and the hodhan Ishani and the Wendat peoples. And it’s now home to many, many diverse first nations. Anyone in Maiti? People from across Turtle Island Trotta was also covered by trees. Your teen signed with the Mississauga’s of the credit and the Williams trees, which were signed with multiple Annishnabec, nations. And we are always cognizant and appreciative of our ancestry in the traditional lands that we occupy. And we also acknowledge that these conversations are taking place while we still have thousands of Canadians engaged in first-line emergency response, saving lives, keeping people safe. And we never want these conversations to be seen as supplanting that or in any way operating in isolation from that. And we we we have these conversations because we want, as I suggested, to try to connect the dots. But we are aware that multiple governments continue to be under extraordinary pressure and other first responders working with them. These conversations are about practical things. What are we seeing? What do we see? What’s working, what isn’t, and what’s next? And as we suggested, the departure of sidewalk labs, the decision this side of a collabs made last week opened up a space for us to talk about where a smart tech and what is the future. And this is the beginning of a conversation. I know people familiar with this topic broadly aren’t afraid of Twitter. So you can feel free to use hashtag city talk and engage there. And the conversation just needs to start here and continue. Also, we have a chat function, as many have already seen. And. And so what we don’t like is for you to feel free to offer comments. All of you online in the chat, you can offer comments. You can ask questions. Often people in the chat respond to each other more quickly than our panelists can. So it’s a really good resource. And as I’ve said before, what goes in the chat stays in the chat. It’s not Vegas. So just remember, you put something up there. It’s gonna be there for for eternity. And we’re going to publish it. And when you are offering comments, could you make sure that you offer them to panelists and everyone so that everybody sees it? So this hive mind can the problem solve with you? The we keep that chat function open a little bit afterwards. So the panelists drop off and maintain and go about their business. But the chat stays open. So if you want to continue, have a conversation, feel free to do so. As you know, we’re recording. And we will post this chat and we will post the will post the session and the chat and a summary that we do after each session up for people to watch again. And we’re actually finding that we have all the previous sessions we’ve done for weeks, everyone. We have it all up there. And we’re finding that hundreds of more people actually go and watch these things are either again or get introduced to it. So please feel free to share it with your colleagues if if they’re interested. And the reference to the Amanda Lang conversation with Dan Doctoroff will post. And we post lots of resources in the chat. So every time a panelist utters some smart online reference or a book or something, we’ll put it up on a track. And we as I said, I wanna thank you all for chiming in and helping us with this one and making it happen. And we’re really delighted to have you all members on this session and hope you’ll tune into small city talks. As I suggested, usually Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays this week, every day and always on Friday, we talk with the mayor about what’s really going on. OK, so it’s a new day. Is it a new day for smart tech in Canada? And Canadian cities were eager to hear what you say. And we’re always happy to have somebody give us some perspective from a different place. And so toReform is joining us. She’s based in New York City, but she’s actually temporarily in Palo Alto. I think. Vollertsen Whereas California Sun and we’re in California. I’m in Tahoe at the moment. Well, you’re in Tahoe. Wokingham Ralph, you’re in town. Talk to us. You know, you’ve got a really interesting perspective for us. And everybody here in this in this panel is active in the smart city and the smart tech domain and has been for some time. You got a lot of wisdom to share with us.

Mary Rowe [00:07:56] So tell me what you’ve been seeing and we’re very interested to hear from California. What are you seeing as the impact of COVID on the sector and communities and the relevance of smart tech now. Over to you Tara, just give us 90 seconds on your perspective.

Tara Pham [00:08:10] Cool. Thanks. As as just quick context, my company makes a camera based sensor that measures all modes of transportation at street level, and we do that in a completely privacy first way. But in order to provide a more equitable transportation data. So we specialize in measuring things like pedestrian and bicycle traffic rather than just car counts. And what I’ve been seeing is actually really an uptick in interest in remote monitoring and understanding that I think a lot of cities actually need to provide more space for people recreationally, which in many densities means closing off streets to cars. And that’s actually something that I think is exciting and maybe something to be optimistic about. So I’m seeing that obviously through our businesses, cities want to measure that in order to kind of have there before, during and after. My hope is that cities actually create some of these interventions, not just as kind of quick builds projects, but actually as permanent changes to their master plans and for us, that means it’s not just traffic safety between people and cars, but actually thinking how can we change the streetscape entirely not to be so car first at all. But actually, you know, if you didn’t have cars parking and driving on the road, how can we actually make these spaces more enjoyable for people to be out with their families safely and socially distance? That’s really the point of it.

Mary Rowe [00:09:44] Is California trying to run you back to New York? You sound like a New Yorker right there. They’re saying its cars should be a fewer cars on the streets. Just just just asking.

Tara Pham [00:09:52] I mean, actually, to be honest, in New York City has been rather slow to adopt. When you consider how dense it is and how quickly some other cities did adopt these changes. So in that way, I’m a little grateful for the pressure that this is created to act and really make some big changes to streets.

Mary Rowe [00:10:10] You’ve raised a couple of points which we’ll come back to. One is measurement. The the role of tech in terms of evaluating and carrying what is actually going on. And secondly, what if it’s going to stick? What are these modifications? OK. Let’s go next to Brian. Brian, you’ve got a storied history in this domain. What are you saying? 90 seconds on what your perspective?

Brian Kelcey [00:10:30] Well, I’m sure we’ll come back to Quayside details later today. But on the broader market and the opportunities I’ve had to to talk to a few companies under difficult circumstances over the last last few weeks, I think what we are seeing is that. Anything that depends on new rounds of VC financing, anything that depends on large amounts of financing generally, which I include Quayside in that mix, is being reconsidered. And I think the good news for a number of reasons from that unfortunate problem is that a lot of companies, especially small Canadian companies, are starting to focus on moving as rapidly as possible to serving customers with the technology that they’re developing. What I’m not seeing and what’s what’s kind of frustrating for me and disappointing is that my role on the Quayside debate was, you know, I work for the Board of Trade. At that point, we were very supportive of Quayside moving forward. But we’re also extremely supportive of having strong federal regulation, something like what the EU has with the GDPR regime that’s out there so that innovators and citizens are concerned about these technologies wouldn’t be operating in a vacuum when people start talking about contact tracing and what’s what’s legal, what’s principle in that environment. And here we are. We’re now seeing that a serious debate is taking place about the use of those technologies and the rules still aren’t in place. So it’s time for everybody to turn their guns away from hating the company of the months. Like many due to the sidewalk and let’s get together and get a level regulatory playing field so that we know what the rules are.

Mary Rowe [00:12:02] OK, so the whole notion of the venture capital, what’s going to happen there? And as you suggest, rules. Okay. John Jung, let’s hear from you. What do you see?

John Jung [00:12:12] All right. Well, as you may know, I deal with communities all across Canada, but also globaly and various sizes, not just urban centers. We look at rural and small cities as well. And so, you know, one of the key things that we’re going to be coming out of this is the fact that people have to get engaged at the local level to develop their smart city plan so that it’s more sort of people centric and holistic approach to what’s going on in their communities. And many of them, particularly in the rural communities, are finding they just don’t have the enabling infrastructure. They’re missing that broadband, that essential utility that’s that’s missing. So how can companies in those communities even begin to do things and thrive? So they’re forced to go into bigger urban centers where this is possible. And many of them don’t even go to places in Toronto. They’ll go into the United States or elsewhere. So we’re losing that innovation. You know, it’s it’s not only an issue of creating a startup ecosystem. We have a problem with scaling. And what we need to do is look at all of the different tactics and strategies and our communities to be able to do that. And what I’m seeing is communities are beginning to not only look at the essential utilities that are necessary and infrastructure, but they’re also looking at their strategy, not just projects. You know, everybody is now living in a city lab environment. We’re all experimenting. What what communities are saying, like I’m looking at a number of them with CUI. I did a smart city plan for Mississauga for instance working on others in Durham and elsewhere. I’m seeing that all around the world that people are now saying as they’re coming out of that truck and rescue. Let’s reimagine our communities now from a different point of view. And I think you have speakers here today on the panel that’ll be able to talk about some of those things. We talk about open, resilient, ethical cities and so forth. So why not take a new look at how we should approach that? Now that we’ve come through the system of COVID and post-COVID era.

Mary Rowe [00:14:23] I think we’re still going through it. I think that I hear you. You’re the optimist. It’s a moment, isn’t it? Siri, let’s hear from you and then we’ll go to you on the way after you. Siri.

Siri Agrell [00:14:32] Sure. I think what I’m seeing both on individual level and on a community level is that we are viscerally living through a sort of case study and the opportunity of technology and government and that that threats and the concerns and the challenges of it. Right. Everything that’s kind of allowing us to stay connected, understand what’s going on to buy things. All of that is being enabled by technological tools, and that’s hugely important. We’re seeing an acceleration in that, but we’re also seeing the problems with that. We’re seeing you know, we’re understanding that, you know, talking through Zoom is not the same as talking Face-To-Face, that working from home is not the same as working in an office. That when you’re only using those tools, there is going to be a disproportionate issues of access and equity that we’re going to see only certain neighborhoods or, you know, as the point was just made, certain municipalities who have the infrastructure, the tools, the money to actually access it. So it’s we’re living through that promise. And that threat of these things. Right. We know that they’re necessary. You know, I hate the term smart cities. It’s about government modernization. Government modernization to me has always been about service continuity. You need these tools so people can access service, but you have to do it in a responsible way, you have to make sure that we’re not just trading away all of that to one, you know, one company, because we’re also, I think, learning as the society right now what happens if we decide I’m only going to buy things through Amazon. We are trading away our main streets. Right. So we’re all living through these things in real time right now.

Mary Rowe [00:16:09] Yeah. We are sort of a global pilot, aren’t we? It’s a global pilot project or a global petri dish. Jean-Noe Let’s hear from you and your perspective from Quebec and out of different communities you’re working with.

Jean-Noe Landry [00:16:19] Absolutely. Thank you very much for for the invite. So obviously, I think we all kind of saw that news. Yes. Well, last week. And it did for for for us. I mean, it’s also thinking about, well, this isn’t this isn’t all about sidewalk labs or the Quayside project. But the key side project amplified and brought to light a number of different issues that were already on the radar, but really kind of accelerated or forced a conversation and due to these kind of hard-fought mobilization that took place. I think we’re in a better place now in terms of the discourse and the kind of conversation around principles that should be underpinning our vision and the way that we talk and work through different decisions as it relates to open, smart cities. And, you know, we’ve we’ve done an exercise of coming up with a like the key side project litmus test or the key side litmus tests, for example, as we learned from that experience. And how do we work in support communities across Canada to mitigate some of those risks? And there’s a lot that can be done, and I’m happy to elaborate on that. But maybe more to the point around like smart technology, when we talk about smart technology, we’re talking about data. Right. That’s the enabling that, that the stuff that makes technology in many ways work. And so when we conn- connect and observe the world around us as it unfolds with that pandemic crisis, you know, there’s a few things that we can kind of deduct and that we’re we’re already seeing, one of which is that the the rapid pace of the corona virus is not only testing the capacity of of health system, but it’s also showing how our data infrastructure is deeply fractured. Right. And particularly inside communities as well. And in between them and across different levels of government. So we know that publishing reliable data requires time and resources, which, you know, communities, especially at this time, are struggling and are hard pressed to be able to mitigate the risk and to address health concerns. But this is a time for collecting and cleaning and standardizing data efforts with a long term perspective and really kind of charting the course of where we want to end up and how do we create a data environment that’s rich for the future as we come out of this crisis. The key issue also that’s been noted is the data privacy, you know, piece of the conversation. There’s been a couple of initiatives and things that have come up over the last few weeks, kind of really kind of stating what are these principles from, you know, how can we be cautious about privacy? And so I’d point to kind of the statement that came out by open media recently. But also last week there was a joint statement released by the federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners with a reminder on key principles to consider. So that we need to really pay attention to that, because this is about compliance and it’s also about building trust and seizing this opportunity to have a new kind of conversation, as we’re, you know, as citizens look to government for, you know, four kind of competent leadership and response. So this is the time when we can actually have a window to talk about privacy in ways that are that are new that might have been available to us in the past. And lastly, I think when we talked about a coordinated data response, different scales obviously apply. I think John made that point. And it’s not just between cities or different levels of government. It’s also in this particular context between neighborhoods themselves and how smart technology needs to have that economic data. It’s the economy of scale, but inside within kind of territorial boundaries of a city administration. Let’s stop there for now.

Mary Rowe [00:19:50] Go ahead, Brian.

Brian Kelcey [00:19:51] Yeah, just just to cut in on one small thing, that’s a pet peeve. I’m not really disagreeing with Jean-Noe, but maybe supplementing in that. And it certainly pertains to the sidewalk Quayside debate as well as that. I think one of the challenges with the whole so-called smart cities, milieu or genre, if you like, is trying to define where that line is. I’ve never defined it as simply including data software, although that’s obviously the most controversial, most well-funded piece of this. But I think we’re leaving a lot on the table if we don’t take a more traditional management school definition of innovation to include physical technologies, improved construction and improved productivity in infrastructure, construction of better and greener materials. That’s part of the promise of this this whole area. And obviously, data and software is interlinked with that. But. I would hate to go through the rest of the conversation nudging all of us those off the table, because for me, much of what was most interesting of our Quayside, and much of what’s most interesting about the sector is stuff that doesn’t necessarily need advanced software or vast data to be contributing to life in cities.

Jean-Noe Landry [00:21:01] So I just wonder I agree with that, if I may Mary. Because for us, it’s an open, smart city. And when we unpack open, we don’t just talk about data and the governance piece we talked about. Yes. The software, but also the engagement and the inclusive aspect of cities that’s participatory share. Cities that sharing cities as well, being cities. There’s a there’s a lot there. So we we use the OpenNorth definition of an open smart city that I can refer to in the chat here.

Mary Rowe [00:21:25] I just I John, I can see you want to and I just want to just interject and say let’s if we can try to keep the conversation as grounded in what we’re really seeing. Because I’m I’m I know that many of you have written about this. You’ve been talking about this. You’ve been waiting around principles and concerns. And here we are in a global pandemic. And if the tech community I want to get rid of Smart, I would love it if we could abolish this term. Smart. I’ve hated the hierarchical nature of that. But anyway, I don’t know what the other option is. I know, John, you chose intelligent, which doesn’t really. But because I used to say I’m in for dumb cities. But can we can we get it to have a conversation? This is a profound moment for this tech sector to make remarkable contributions to making cities more livable, equitable, resilient. All that stuff in your sector, do you think? Live up to this? Will it? Will it deliver on our serious language, the promise and the threat? Can we see the promise, triumph? John, you go next.

John Jung [00:22:25] Well, we did get rid of the words Smart cities about two decades ago. And we took on the word intelligent communities trying to be more holistic. Where I’d like to go with this, too, is the question of talent, because when we’re dealing with tech companies, you need to have the talent to be able to not only develop the innovation, but to run them to scale up and do a lot of different things that we’re able to do. If you have the kinds of companies that we evolve like Shopify that came out of Ottawa. The best Ottawa company. And really look at how we partner with the universities and with libraries and maker spaces and so forth that actually bring that knowledge workforce to bear Canada.

Mary Rowe [00:23:17] So, John, John, rather than speaking aspirationally, just tell me, do you think we have that sector? Do we have the talent?

John Jung [00:23:25] We do need to look at look at the Toronto water record? Well, universities that we have in the area and the kind of applications. Take Waterloo. You’ve got the communitech that works very closely with universities, with companies, and then also engages the citizenry. So this is a thing called the triple helix or quadruple helix if they talk about in Europe and Asia and so forth. We have that here. We have some great examples in Toronto. Look at that. We’ve got some fantastic startups that are happening here in accelerators.

Mary Rowe [00:24:07] So let’s talk about that. What happens when a venture capital decamps? Is that going to threaten the robustness? Siri, you were working for one of these big firms trying to pull this together. Is the exiting of venture capital a bad thing? Is that a good thing?

Siri Agrell [00:24:21] Well, I think there’s not an exiting venture capital, right. There’s a ton of venture capital money. Part of the issue here is what are we investing in and how. Right? What is the return? There was always a correction happening in tech in terms of the inflation we are seeing around companies that probably didn’t deserve that. So I think there’s a little bit of a reassessment of what the V.C. should where they should be putting their money, where, you know, expectations of revenue. When it comes to there’s there’s tons of venture capital money. The problem I think with this conversation and where we just kind of went is that we’re still sort of segmenting. Right. We’re talking about the tech center. We’re talking about smart communities. Those lines don’t exist anymore. Right. There is not a tech sector that works in one neighborhood that has one kind of person. Everything is a tech company. Right now, every government has to have a layer of tech. Every company has to have a layer of tech. We can’t act like it’s a bunch of kids in a basement and whether they’re gonna help out or not. Every every company has it right now. And there are amazing things being done. There is that there’s amazing suggestions. I think the great thing about this and you know, how it is rallied, what we would call the tech sector is they realize that these tools can be used. They want to be a part of that. They’re seeing that there is a line in and I think to their credit. You know, a lot of governments have opened the door on the right, the provincial government, Ontario created a portal for tech companies to say, here’s my here’s what I have, here’s how I think it can be used. So I think there’s a lot of great movement there.

Mary Rowe [00:25:59] What do you say Siri to this notion? I mean, you worked at municipal government and you’ve worked in a bunch of sectors. And about John’s point about enabling infrastructure. You know, we we continue to have vast parts of the country that don’t have broadband. And we’re seeing people in library parking lots just trying to get Wi-Fi signals in their cars or in their stand. Well, that can can can I hear you don’t want to call the sector, but can could we? Is there a moment here where we’re going to double down and say we have to come out of this with universal broadband? I don’t know. What do you think?

Siri Agrell [00:26:35] Absolutely. And I think it’s it’s a hugely important thing in terms of equity, access, geography, but also in funding. Right. And I think part of the problem, part of the reason that so many governments are behind on this is that there has not been funding for this level of infrastructure. Right. So for 20 years, we have talked about, you know, oh, bureaucrats got new computers. That’s such a waste. Who signed off on that? That’s right. Why? That’s gravy. Why are we spending money on this when really these are the tools that allow for service continuity for us to actually provide the things that people need. So absolutely. I think the huge opportunity here is for the federal government to realize that the access to broadband infrastructure should be universal, should be everywhere. We have a disparity in the city of Toronto. Imagine what that disparity is in northern Ontario or in the north of Canada. It’s completely ridiculous that that’s not funded properly. And I think we also need an infrastructure funding stream that is about, you know, the tools. Right. Actually investing in the tools that are going to allow us to serve people in the best way possible.

Mary Rowe [00:27:43] So there is this tension between investment in big systems like universal broadband and all the big tech solutions. And then a company like yours, Tara, that’s actually a small – I’m assuming a relatively small company and you’re trying to have a catalytic impact based on the technology you’re bringing into the market.

Tara Pham [00:28:02] Yeah, well, I just to Siri’s point, I also just wanted to add, I think one of the talking points that we can use as communities is that actually improving our infrastructure helps our resilience. And one thing that we’ve seen in this pandemic is that, you know, traditionally in my work, when I talk about resilience, I think about resilience. I’m thinking about transportation systems. So I’m thinking about green infrastructure and differently designed streets. But we also now are actually seeing that our digital infrastructure is part of a resilience strategy going forward. So issues of digital divide and making sure that we can engage communities fairly is going to be an important investment of governments. And, you know, the fact that we have so many people and this is, you know, it sounds like in Canadian cities, definitely true American cities as well. So many people that don’t have basic access to digital infrastructure, we can’t make the argument that we are appropriately engaging communities and getting community feedback if they can’t even tune in to our community meetings.

Mary Rowe [00:29:07] So where do you see that getting solved Tara? What do you think the solution is to the local level?

Tara Pham [00:29:12] They are big infrastructure projects. I think that yes, they are big infrastructure projects. I think the question is how do governments fund this? And frankly, you know, I’m not an economist and I do get nervous that right now in the US and I imagine Canada its similar, like they’re just blanket bailing out companies through this time. And so, you know, how do we actually reserve capital or how do we finance these larger infrastructure projects after this bailout? That’s a big question. I will say back to your original questio to me. One of the hardest parts about being a small company that sells to cities is obviously the procurement process. So I think one thing that is interesting to see in COVID is we also see cities flagging different purchases suddenly as emergency response. And I think that’s actually a signal of maybe normal procurement processes just not being slow fast enough or right sized maybe is a better way to put it. I’m ready for, you know, why we have various procurement processes and laws. It’s so important. However, we’ve sort of overcorrected with anti-corruption laws to actually just favor really giant companies that can tolerate these extremely long procurement processes. And being a small company in that space, like I will say, not to toot our own horn, but we operate in more than 20 cities and we’re a total anomaly. Given that we haven’t raised very much VC. We were just, We were lucky in that in selling to cities, we had something very unique and very targeted. But there are many strokes of luck that I can point to that we’ve had to make it this far as a company. And that included philanthropic funding, which is very difficult in general for tech companies to receive. Academic partnerships, definitely. So we need to find other ways to get especially, I think Smart City or Urban Tech Company is funding because the truth is, I think being overly reliant on VC means that we’re encouraging companies to have incentives that aren’t aligned with the communities they serve. And so we need to figure out better ways of funding smaller entities who who are not so bound, for example, to public stakeholder, public stakeholders and communities, definitely, but not public companies whose only stakeholders are driven by profit.

Mary Rowe [00:31:49] I mean, we have an initiative that at CUI could bring back Main Street, and we’re very interested in whether local procurement policies can actually start to help stimulate local businesses and Janaway. I know you want to step in. I just know there is some keenness on the chat. Here to talk a little bit about what do we see the impact of sidewalk labs departure be on the future of the sector. And I I want to let I guess, you know, I’ve been divorced so I know about starter marriages. And I guess I’m I’m curious whether or not people have a sense collectively that did we learn a lot through the two years or so? And are we now ready to, you know, find our forever friends? I don’t know what the right metaphor is, Jean-Noe. Why you go first and then we’ll go to some others who want to weigh in on that. Please go ahead.

Jean-Noe Landry [00:32:35] I think there’s probably like four key learnings that we can deduct or extract from the Quayside project kind of experience. One of which is the question of who’s data. Right. That was really at the core of, you know, a lot of the issues that that came up defining what we mean by that. Is it public or private schools? Obviously, a kind of regulatory frameworks, but it’s also about different models of shared governance as well, which creates a lot of opportunities for innovative ways of integrating different perspectives in the way that we actually manage and provide oversight around decisions that are made based on data that’s collected publicly. Then it’s the the open procurement piece. So we talked about procurement. So I think there is a huge now incentives that we’ve seen around like market neutral analysis. That’s actually something that’s a very, very high value and a lot of interest from communities to be able to do that well, it’s going to level the playing field, operate in transparency and gauge having methodologies that are, you know, that that enable you to make better decisions about the choice of solutions themselves. The digital divide piece was was mentioned a few times. Well, you know, that that’s a requirement. Now, when we talk about, you know, the divide, the digital divide – dividing out, what does it mean for engagement in the design of future cities, not just participating in online conversations, but actually raising the level of education around the issues that are discussed in the context of, you know, a framing of sets of problems that are not the day to day of most people, you know.

Mary Rowe [00:34:09] By the way who redirecting your comments to, though, when you say these must be done by whom? Well, I’m saying the game this way. Or are you saying governments should or what do you think so?

Jean-Noe Landry [00:34:20] Well, this is where we’re at the crux of the supply and demand. Right. Because there needs to be kind of a way that we’re learning from, you know, the procurement process from the city of Toronto and waterfront. And how do we extract kind of learnings for cities writ large that are now investing in new kind of I.T. solutions and smart tech and whatnot? So in my mind, anybody who’s working with cities to do capacity building or, you know, injecting, even funding in kind of cities, we need to be extremely mindful of that open procurement or social procurement aspect. So these are obviously by design.

Mary Rowe [00:34:53] These are principles that you would embed in the procurement process that a municipal government or a government agency would engage in. Brian, I know you mean something. Do you want to add some comments here about what we can learn and what what does it look like now going forward?

Brian Kelcey [00:35:09] Could go on for hours. No, I’m not. I will not. But I’m not sure everybody has learned lessons yet. But the number one thing I’m certainly drawing my attention to in a similar way, both as historical commentary to Jean-Noe’s point and a lesson that governments can take on this is that sidewalk as a company was blamed and hit for a lot of things that were called for in Waterfronts original RFP. So much of this process has been governed by an RFP out of waterfront that asked for the moon, asked for Utopia. Asked for comments on how the proponent would finance transit build more efficiently, bringing new data technologies, plan to have your neighborhood build more affordable housing. All of that was packed into this giant RFP. And then surprise, surprise, it becomes an unwieldy conversation just to get closure on the real estate deal part of this, which is where I think things really collapsed. A real estate deal which we would’ve seen a company paying, you know, six close to six hundred million dollars in cash for public land that’s empty, which would’ve been one of the largest private purchases of public land of its kind in Canadian history. We’re losing that money. We’re losing the jobs. We’re losing the profile. But I was always somebody who believed that the sector was strong enough. And I’m not afraid to call it a sector that if we can have procurers, governments, businesses break up the individual ideas and lessons that were such a subject of debate with Quayside. And if we can have the federal government step in now, please, and actually create a level regulatory playing field so that nobody’s wondering about privacy issues with the five hundred other companies that are treading through this water, then I think we can. We can still vault from this experience quite successfully.

[00:37:01] So Brian, your notion of procurement. Tara, just a second to go back to Jean-Noe, because I cut him off and we didn’t get your fourth point. Jean-Noe what was your forth point?

Jean-Noe Landry [00:37:09] Well, if the fourth point was integrated, smart city planning in current plans so that smart city planning isn’t that flashy project on the side here. And I think there’s you know, I can see the head nodding here in terms of like, you know, a bit of consensus, because we need to we need to be able to understand and operate in the language that cities are working. At the same time, we don’t want to be kind of constrained by that terminology at the detriment of creating new silos that could bring more inefficiencies within. And if urban planning writ large within city contexts.

Mary Rowe [00:37:40] Tara, you want to jump in?

Tara Pham [00:37:41] Yeah. So related to actually both of the most recent points from Brian and Jean-Noe. I think there’s an exciting opportunity for cities to learn from tech mutualistically in an open forum. We are so we are a vendor to sidewalk labs. We had sensors at Quayside development at 307. What I will say, I think that sidewalk actually did more vetting of our technology than any of our municipal customers around the world for the most part. And it was because of the public pressure. So I think that there is opportunity and systems were created as learnings out of this. And and part of what was interesting about their process is we already existed as a technology that had a very rigid privacy by design policy in everything that we do. And what I liked about working with them is that they actually learned from us and that as well, they kind of surveyed what are best practices across the industry. And they took things that we were doing and extrapolated them forward. You know, more thinking ahead into city scale and applying the same level of rigor even to other companies or I won’t say our competitors because we’re fairly unique, but certainly to, you know, maybe our peers in different verticals that have different applications. And definitely, you know, coming from that tech company perspective, I can say a lot of our job when we sell to cities is actually education. Many of the cities that we work with, especially smaller cities who maybe don’t have data, dedicated data, scientists on staff or technologists, you know, in this realm on staff, they’re actually looking to us for answers about what our best practice practices and privacy. And so I appreciate when that’s more of a conversation and what I think Sidewalk did well for us was to have those conversations in a public forum and present that information. And so hopefully, you know, that is a learning out of all of this that we can take forward.

Mary Rowe [00:39:47] You know, this is a dynamic. It’s been in cities forever between a big, big, big, ambitious, what used to be called master planning processes versus smaller, more organic, hyper local, organic. It’s often shorthanded about the Robert Moses, Jane Jacobs to cities. And I think that one of the dynamics we saw play over in Toronto in the last couple of years was an apprehension about big tech and where the control is. Suggest some of you asked, whose data is that? It raised all these questions about who actually owned things and who was leading things and wasn’t usurping government, et cetera, et cetera. Do you thinking that? Is there an opportunity now for us to really plant a different kind of garden? I don’t know. What do people think or do you think we need to find another large player? We see this in the ride hailing services. Big players come in and set a standard. What do you think? Do you think we’re gonna norm it to some a different? Siri?

Siri Agrell [00:40:48] I think that was always what needed to happen. Right. And I think that part of you know, part of the problem with the conversation is that we we acted a little bit like this conversation started, you know, began and ended with sidewalk. Right. Cities have always innovated. We’ve always been trying to find new tools. We’ve always had struggles with this kind of thing. I think for me, you know, the lessons out of this and the things we have to work on is that cities are really difficult. Right. Urban issues are really difficult. I think everybody learned that as a result of that. I’m so happy to hear how well they worked with you in terms of like, you know, figuring out, OK, well, how do we deal with all these different things? Because I think, you know, my experience with Sidewalk and with a lot of people who, you know, a lot of technologists come into that urban space is that they haven’t seen the complexity of it. And, you know, the most generous interpretation of government is that sometimes government moves hard or slowly because it’s very difficult when you can’t have unintended consequences for different elements of the population. When you have to think about equity issues and access issues and data and all those things, it’s it’s hard. It’s complicated. So technology companies learning to work through these things with government is important because these are difficult issues. And not just the data pieces, but we’re talking about building physical spaces, right? We’re talking about building buildings and building roads and things like that. I think the other lesson here is that we have to do this and we have to be aware of the land grabs. And I think this is a threat that I see very much right now in terms of the conversation. Does that accelerate that procurement that we’re seeing? You know, the fundamental issue with Sidewalk and Brian kind of alluded to this is that it was about land, right? They wanted a big piece of land, not a little piece of land for sure. Everybody does.

Brian Kelcey [00:42:29] They were offered a big piece of land that they bid on.

Siri Agrell [00:42:32] They were operated by somebody who didn’t own it. Unfortunately,.

Brian Kelcey [00:42:35] What waterfront does actually on that parcel, that’s what makes you.

Siri Agrell [00:42:39] I’m talking about the port lands on your own [Unrecognized] [Unrecognized].

Mary Rowe [00:42:44] Gang. If you took the land peace out of it, I guess is the question, isn’t it? Is it feasible to do these things without.

Siri Agrell [00:42:53] And I think that that’s the point I’m trying to make. Mary, how do we define the land grab? Right. So what how do we work with amazing companies who are coming up with new ways of measuring data? Seeing how we’re interacting with the space without trading away too much land and by land, I mean we’re just any any kind of sort of real estate in the public. Good. And I think the other thing to your question is that there was never going to be one partner in this. Right. Just like any other type of procurement. You’re not like, well, I’ll just let this one company do all of the roads or I’ll let one company build all of the schools. That should never be the answer. Right.

Mary Rowe [00:43:27] But we got what we have. It’s not that wouldn’t be the first time we’ve done that. We have suburbs that were built that way and we live with the results of them.

Siri Agrell [00:43:37] Exactly. And so I think we need to recognize that maybe that’s not the right path and that, you know, we need to be finding the right partners for the right projects and be a little bit. I think the great lesson here is that everyone’s been like, oh, this is actually a little bit more complicated than we thought. We need to we need to actually go down a layer. We need to find a bunch of different partners, a bunch of individual companies who are doing incredible things and learn how to work with them rather than being dazzled by all the smart guys from New York. Want to fix everything for us. Let’s do it.

Mary Rowe [00:44:06] It could just as easily been smart guys from Woodstock. Right. I mean, it’s not just because I think we have to be careful about that. We love to be anti-American when they’re given a chance. I don’t think it’s just that. But what do you say, Siri, to the notion that John said at the beginning where he wants to see municipal governments develop plans? And I think, you know, Tara is saying she has to educate cities. And I think we all know this, that that how are we going to get the right frameworks in place that Jean-Noe is saying is so essential. Can we do it? Can we do it quickly enough gang, can we get can we equip municipal governments don’t have enough money as it is, you know,.

Siri Agrell [00:44:40] It’s the biggest it’s the biggest issue. And just a quick point on this. When I was in the mayor’s office, it was a huge struggle for me that there was no bureaucratic equivalent to me who was thinking about these issues? There is a definite lack of capacity there. That’s a huge problem. And the thing that I find strange about it, you know, when I had this conversation with the city manager at one point about tech and he’s like, well, I don’t I don’t understand technology. I’m like, you don’t understand how to build a swimming pool either. You couldn’t build a swimming pool for me, but you understand that cities need them, that they need to be safe, that people enjoy them, that you fill them with water. Right. Like you understand how to procure a swimming pool. And so I think that that absolutely we need people in government who who understand how to work with technology. We need amazing technology partners who understand that government is hard and understand that there are issues that they might not have thought about when they first developed their products and be willing to have a conversation.

Tara Pham [00:45:34] I just want to add something to that point, which is that some of this technology is very difficult. Like the thing that we kind of gloss over is actually to build in privacy requires more work in the R&D of the tech. And so making sure that that happens at every level is really key. How we ended up with companies like Google and Facebook is that intentionally or not, some of their earliest data collection was kind of just, you know, their Trojan horses were using their products, not realizing their gleaning all this other data, really. And that’s why privacy by design is so important for us. We have to go so far above and beyond any old CCTV or surveillance company to do what we do. Well, so to Siri’s point, having experts built into cities, I mean, I think more cities actually need that position of, you know, technologist, whether and not CTO, the CTO of a city is often doing something very different. A lot of I.T. departments, but having technologists and even vertically focused like I’ve had the pleasure of working with some technologists for the public realm. And that’s like a very niche role that ends up being so important in in the city.

Mary Rowe [00:46:56] Tara, Tara, what about that? Is there a way through COVID for it for that sector to be much more engaged in offering tech solutions and tech interventions to strengthen the ways in which cities were not are not functioning well? So our division, rather than optimizing for things that are nice to haves, I think that’s part of the dilemma, is that if people’s sector was engaging and making cities more livable and resilient for vulnerable populations works, addressing some of the real Gordian knots we got, maybe they would be better, more inclined to welcome the interventions.

Tara Pham [00:47:32] Yeah. So there’s there’s a bit of a conundrum because the venture capital sector controls a lot of where tech goes and unfortunately they have a a extreme distaste for companies that sell to government. And some of that is merited because government is slower than, you know, a consumer to purchase, let’s say. So I think there needs to be some reckoning there. I think also, you know, cities and technology companies need to meet each other somewhere there. I don’t know that this is the answer, but what COVID could provide is a little bit more urgency around certain things and that would help both sides.

Mary Rowe [00:48:12] You already are seeing we are seeing in Canada, governments are making decisions quite quickly about lots of key things.

Tara Pham [00:48:19] Yeah, I mean, we’ve seen some mistakes. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’ll say on the US side, we’ve seen some governments really mess up. We’ve been trying to move too quickly. So you gotta be careful. But my hope is that we can find the silver lining in all of this and fight right things to kind of gain momentum on.

Siri Agrell [00:48:40] Mary, I think the responsibility does lie with government to articulate what the problems are they’re trying to solve. Because I think that a lot of tech people are guessing and they’re like, oh, we have this thing. But fundamentally, a lot of the issues that government have are below the surface. They’re not very good at explaining this is the problem we’re having that we need to fix. I think now is a great opportunity and governments are starting to do that. Oh, God, we don’t know how to communicate to this group or we don’t know how to manage this kind of curb issue when they have they have to put those problems out there. And I think there’s tons of companies that can can help solve them.

Tara Pham [00:49:19] Oh, sorry, Yeah, tactical recommendation there is. We’ve seen one thing that works very well is RFPs that are really focused on the end problem or the challenge and not prescriptive with the solution. And so that allows companies to get some background issue on the problem and suggest a solution that maybe the city staff haven’t considered yet.

Mary Rowe [00:49:40] So we’re back to procurement. Jean-Noe and then Brian. Go ahead Jean-Noe

Jean-Noe Landry [00:49:45] Yeah. So just to just to jump on a couple of comments that have been made. So in terms of problem framing, absolutely. I agree. However, I don’t think that it should be government that only defines what the problem is for procurement processes. We’re in in a situation now where there’s a desire and a hunger for engagement. Right. There is a proximity. There’s a trust. There’s a kind of dependencies that exist between citizens and their public institutions. They want to participate in processes that enable them to provide their perspective on city services that are better adapted to their needs and the problems that impact them like on a daily basis. So that’s one thing, and then from a RFP perspective. Well, this is an opportunity to build in, you know, open source and open data as necessary or when when the opportunity is there for companies to compete. But then also a benefit, a broader ecosystem. And from the perspective of, you know, the smart city discourse, well, you know, whether there’s an alternative model that’s been promoted in the Canadian context for the last few years, and that’s been through the leadership of the the infrastructure, the infrastructure, Canada at the federal level. And if you look at the principles of the this must be the smart cities challenge run by the federal government on openness, integration, transfer ability and collaboration. You know, these are all things that if those would have been the terms by which sidewalk would have competed with, you know, with the RFP, we might have been in a very different situation than that. We ended up in the context of Toronto.

Mary Rowe [00:51:20] We have such an ambivalent relationship with risk taking in Canada, don’t we? And who’s the who were the risk takers? And Brian and then John. Go ahead, Brian.

Brian Kelcey [00:51:28] Oh, one question. I don’t think I have an answer to in my head right now from the whole sidewalk and Quayside experience is one that was raised by Jean-Noe a couple comments ago with respect to I mean, I think the reason why Waterfront tried to be so ambitious with its RFP and the reason why sidewalk labs as a company may have been so interested in bidding there was that the RFP was consciously an effort to to achieve the kind of integration that some were talking about earlier and that the risk with being much more focused, as Tara talked about, which I think, you know, is probably the the best of worlds we’re going to get for the time being anyway. But the risk is you’ve got a bunch of niche technologies that are kind of grafted onto an older government system and an older planning system, an older construction methods and everything else, rather than actually integrating the digital with the the construction piece, with the infrastructure management and maintenance and so forth. And so, you know, part of my problem, looking at those experiences as it was, is that just is a dead is there or is there some other model where it’s actually going to be possible to get three or four different players, whether they’re in the same company or separate companies who can serve us those different public purposes together to be providing services to neighborhoods like this so that we aren’t in a situation where, you know, my mayor’s office experience is in Winnipeg and you know, the reason why they’re always digging up the streets to put it another hydro line and then fix another waterline. Yes, it’s because of all layers of infrastructure were built separately and then they still don’t coordinate, you know, in the 21st century, and that’s the case where, you know, Mayor Tory right now is still struggling to get everybody to to know to do their digs at the same time to repair the infrastructure.

Mary Rowe [00:53:20] So you’re here reiterating Siri’s point that we need integrated and continuity.

Brian Kelcey [00:53:24] And also we also need a procurement process that actually does that without burning the people who show up to bid with with an integrated proposal.

Mary Rowe [00:53:34] Right. yes. I hear you. OK. Tara, the Siri. And then we’ll go to John.

Tara Pham [00:53:38] Yeah. I mean, I think that was sort of the dream of the Quayside project, right? Was like, we’re gonna get to start fresh, do everything right from the beginning. And the challenge of working with cities as you have often hundreds of years of staggered innovation by proprietary companies, many of which don’t exist anymore. And so now you’re trying to make it all interoperable and easily upgradeable. And it’s just it’s it’s difficult. So if I had to speculate about sidewalk labs next step, which, you know, like I said, we are a vendor to them. But I have this is just me personally speculating. I think that Quayside was a bit of a science project and now they have to think about how to actually be a business. And that means building solutions are actually meet cities where they are because cities are not where the Quayside proposal was or, you know, it’s not they’re not starting from scratch. They’re working with many, many layers, both physical, infrastructural and bureaucratic and political.

Mary Rowe [00:54:41] We could go on this conversation a long time. And I can see in the chatbox people raising a whole bunch of issues which which, you know, we’re gonna we’re going to learn over time what this what the implications are for what’s happened and what we will learn. It’s not all going to be digestable here in an hour three days after the decision. But I’m going to ask each of you just to very briefly and I’m really cautioning on briefly because we’ve got five minutes to go here. And in terms of Canadian cities moving forward and the promise back to Siri, the promise and threat of smart tech, two or three key things that you would urge us to be focusing on as we emerge from COVID. John, you first and really brief 30 seconds each. Basically, John,.

John Jung [00:55:20] What I was going to talk about was the need for us to recognize that this is about economic development as much as it is about getting out of this pandemic. The next steps, what are we going to be doing with that? We lost an opportunity to piggyback on some exceptional brand. That’s really been important. But how can we not take this and really build an innovation hub or some kind of an opportunity that brings together real Canadian strength in the tech sector? And I think that was one of the challenges and soemthing that we need to move forward with.

Mary Rowe [00:55:58] Brian?

Brian Kelcey [00:56:00] I’m going to go and what sounds like a tangent, but say, you know, one of the most hopeful things I’ve seen in the last last few weeks is the Mayor Tory and Deputy Mayor Ana Bailao pushed through a motion here at City Council where they’re going to use modular construction to build affordable housing. And that’s the kind of thing that Quayside was talking about in terms of their handling the construction side. It’s the kind of practical innovation that solves a real problem by allowing you to build something you need more quickly, something other cities and other regions are far ahead of us on. You know, if we can cross that bridge after years of dodging the opportunity to start doing that, then then I’m hopeful that that cities are are catching the the opportunity to to actually use this crisis to start doing things more quickly and to integrate technology without assuming it’s a utopian solution to all problems.

Mary Rowe [00:56:52] Doesn’t have to of the other. I mean, and even just simple things like getting providing connection between cities so that as is being pointed in the chat by Kathleen , who was in Vancouver at the time, and Vancouvers been doing modular for two years and here we are. Finally, Toronto is learning. And how do we how do we accelerate learnings? I think that’s part of that pressure we may be under, is that you want every city to learn from what the sidewalk experience has been here and what are the things that we can extract from it. Sorry, that’s me not my computer. Jean-Noe, 30 seconds to you.

Jean-Noe Landry [00:57:22] That’s a we’ll we’ll definitely be learning about sidewalk for the years ahead. Obviously, you know, you can anticipate a number of different kind of PhD theses that will probably come out of very experience and which is a good thing. Right. And coincidentally, I think we also have in the smart cities challenge itself, you know, supported by the government of Canada. Other other case studies like Guelph, like Montreal, all like Bridgewater that have abided by those values that I described earlier. So for me, this is you know, it’s it’s recognizing what took place, having an honest conversation and in the context of COVID. It’s also about, you know, being being able to adopt a mindset where there’s a certain kind of tolerance for risk in the public and actually speaking about issues that have a direct impact on, you know, public officials as well as decision makers, your elected representatives as well as citizens, and kind of using risk as a trust and engagement measure there and talking honestly about it. I don’t think we have to we can’t just kind of create internally, then deploy and then ask for feedback. It doesn’t make sense anymore in this context.

Mary Rowe [00:58:26] So, yeah, I mean, as you suggest, there’s all sorts of risk that government is taking now in terms of how it’s investing money. Are the citizens thinking about re-opening lots of things, Siri and then Tara, you’ll take us home. Siri, thirty seconds on what? What’s the learning for Canadian cities?

Siri Agrell [00:58:42] I hope the learning is to, you know, push past umbrella terms like innovation and risk that don’t mean anything and talk about what are we actually trying to do and what are we actually afraid of. So the two questions to what end and at what risk. Let’s actually be specific about that. What are we trying to achieve? For me, it should always be about the people, not in terms of business or safety or whatever. What can technology help us achieve for the residents of our cities or our communities? And what are we worried about? Even if we don’t know how to solve it, can we start talking really about what are the things we’re trying to protect and work together to make sure that we do that as best as we can?

Mary Rowe [00:59:22] To what end and at what risk? Right. Last word to you from sunny California.

Tara Pham [00:59:29] You guys took all my my points. So the thing I’ll add is I’m really excited about what legibility for city looks like being able to access all this information because both to Jean-Noe and Siri’s points actually understanding what is the risk and getting buy-in from communities to enable their policymakers to make those risks. The fear is that you won’t get reelected. Right. But if we can actually say here the values that we want to meet and here’s what we’re going to measure to to assess the success of a project and if they meet these or not and then make a call whether to proceed or or end it. I think that that’s a process we actually need to give our voters and our constituents the credit of understanding. And then the last thing I wanted to say was about inspiring people. There was a conversation briefly here about talent. And I think one of the saddest things in tech is that our greatest minds went to go develop tech for more clicks. And this is actually an opportunity for us to show people who care about technology how to give to their communities and actually like build meaningful things instead. So hoping that this can be a catalyst for that.

Mary Rowe [01:00:42] It’s hard to imagine any challenge greater than a global pandemic to make us. We’re all in the COVID business now, right? We all have to be about how we respond to COVID. So on that note, can I just thank Siri, Brian, Tara, John and Jean-Noe for joining us and helping us, as I suggest, make sense of this in terms of what does it look like, smart tech for Canadian cities with the departure Sidewalk Labs, as I suggest that the conversation carries on it. Hashtag city talk. We’ve been very happy to have you. Yes, we published the chat. Yes. We’ll do a transcript. Yes. This video will be put up. And tomorrow, join us at midday where we’re going to talk about infrastructure, investment and stimulus with two former federal ministers who know how that system works. So I hope you’ll tune in with us and then tune in every day this week for another city talk. Thanks for joining us, everybody. Really important conversations.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact events@canurb.org with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.

12:01:20          From Mounir Kabbara: excited for this!

12:01:31          From Felipe Canavera::D:D:D

12:01:53          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Welcome to today’s webinar. Please remember to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #citytalk.

12:02:02          From Felipe Canavera: 😃😃😃😃

12:02:35          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please also toggle your chat function to include “All panelists and attendees” so that everyone can see your comments.

12:03:00          From Abby S: Is it possible to get a link to the Amanda Laing talk?

12:03:06          From Gurpreet Patheja to All panelists: Looking forward to this discussion.

12:04:27          From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

https://canurb.org/citytalk

12:04:43          From Abby S: I was wondering about the one that richard just mentioned…

12:04:43          From Canadian Urban Institute: CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at covidresponse@canurb.org

12:04:59          From Lisa Cavicchia, CUI Staff: Dan Doctoroff & Amanda Lang: https://www.mediaevents.ca/canadianclub-20190416-doctoroff/

12:05:05          From Abby S: Thank you!

12:05:17          From Lisa Cavicchia, CUI Staff: Sorry, that’s a month old

12:05:47          From Lisa Cavicchia, CUI Staff: I can’t see it online yet

12:06:19          From Denise Ng to All panelists: The recording of the ULI session will be available on our members-based platform, Knowledge Finder in the next couple of days

12:06:23          From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk

12:06:33          From Les Klein to All panelists: It is a year and a month old!

12:06:44          From Canadian Urban Institute: Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:06:56          From Abby S: Yes…i just noticed…

12:07:34          From Abby S to All panelists: @Lisa Was it a BNN segment today?

12:07:57          From Abby S to All panelists: Mary is in a different room…

12:08:07          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Today’s panel:

Siri Agrell – https://twitter.com/SiriAgrell

Brian Kelcey – https://twitter.com/stateofthecity

http://www.stateofthecity.ca

John Jung – https://twitter.com/JohnGJung1

https://icf-canada.com

Jean-Noé Landry – https://twitter.com/opennorth

 https://www.opennorth.ca

Tara Pham – https://twitter.com/tarapham

Home

12:11:40          From kendall christiansen to All panelists: NYC just began closing of streets adjacent to parks; too early to tell what that means (weather hasn’t fully cooperated), but what should we be looking for?

12:12:38          From Abby S: It is what is going to replace Quayside that is the question. And I agree with Brian, it was up to the governments to create the regulatory environment.

12:14:07          From Lester Brown: Replying to Abby S. It is only a small part of some fantastic work that is being done on our Waterfront. It will find somebody to fill that void.

12:15:20          From Lester Brown: Further it was only 12 acres, a very small part of Waterfront development.

12:16:23          From Abby S: Yes but how long has it remained fallow? I am sure someone will fill the void…the question is who? And will it have imagination and affordable housing etc. or will it be sold to the highest bidder to a conventional developer. That is my worry.

12:17:52          From Milton Friesen: Siri is flagging an important dynamic – someone noted (I forget who just now) that online communities are not the root for real community. They can support, expand, etc. but there are real limits zoom/remote. I observe it but also feel it in a visceral way as online only is required these days.

12:18:28          From BJ Danylchuk: That is a huge assumption about the necessity of these tools. The missing piece in all of this is that government and business are “doing to” communities (including not including them at all in the design of what a smart city or community is) instead of “doing with” the community…..this ties directly to the points discussed in an earlier panel, and the related reference “The Third Pillar”…

12:18:32          From Lester Brown: It has not (the part that Sidewalk was using) was used very recently. We have Corktown Common, Underpass Park, the Canary District, the Promenade, Sugar Beach, George Brown Campus, etc. It is incorrect to say nothing is happening there.

12:19:02          From Tonya Surman to All panelists: totally agree Milton…. super challenging to meet anyone new online… it just won’t cut it… super hard to build new business at the very least

12:19:32          From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome new joiners! Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:19:54          From Tonya Surman: totally agree Milton…. super challenging to meet anyone new online… it just won’t cut it… super hard to build new business at the very least

12:20:05          From Andrew Simpson to All panelists: Don’t forget the Don Mouth renaturalization – this is an incredibly innovative project that was funded by the 3 levels of government and shepparded by WaterfrontTO.

12:20:40          From Andrew Simpson: Don’t forget the Don Mouth renaturalization – this is an incredibly innovative project that was funded by the 3 levels of government and shepparded by WaterfrontTO.

12:21:06          From Abby S: @Lester we also have the Distillery, which started with independents and a vibrancy that ultimately was lost…it became unaffordable and lost that vibrancy that it started with. Part of it is accessibility.

12:21:48          From BJ Danylchuk: Brian – great point about the need for holistic approach – it’s not just about tech.

12:22:07          From Geraldine Cahill: Agree Andrew, the Don Mouth renaturalization is hugely exciting. Haven’t had an update in a while, but this is cause for optimism as far as I know about it.

12:22:29          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3fEfm9v

12:22:59          From Abby S: It is ironic how much surveillance is now being considered wrt the pandemic.

12:23:01          From Grant Duckworth to All panelists: Replace smart with learning cities.

12:23:12          From Gillian Mason: Well asked Mary!

12:23:15          From Abby S: Which goes back to the regulatory role of governments

12:23:22          From Lester Brown: yes to renaturalization. I live in the Distillery but it is separate from the Waterfront. A tale for another day. Agree somewhat.

12:23:39          From Francois Bedard to All panelists: Exactly ! Merci:-) …

12:23:39          From Andrew Simpson: Updates on Don Mouth here: https://portlandsto.ca/construction/

12:23:41          From Milton Friesen: Tonya – the art and craft, I think, is bringing the digital into the blend in a way that enriches the actual human organizational interactions. I sometimes think of the online as fertilizer – just enough is great. Too much and you undermine what you are trying to do.

12:23:43          From Negin Minaei: Sidewalk lab was not just a case study to bring Smart City to Toronto; it was way bigger than that. Yes, data privacy is one point but the most dangerous point about it was about generating an algorithm to be examined and perfected by AI in Google and possibly being used across the world in different cities as a model for urbanization disregarding citizenship engagement, sustainability and …. The real concept of ‘Smart Cities’ is not just about data and smart technologies. Seems the original and technical definition is lost and industry is playing us all to shrink our perspective to the type of services they can sell. There was nothing about sustainability and resilience that are more pressing for our existing cities.

12:23:50          From Mohamed Dhanani to All panelists: What void do panelists see that has been created by Sidewalk Labs leaving, and who can fill that void?

12:23:52          From Abby S: @Lester [no offence intended]

12:24:04          From Mohamed Dhanani to All panelists: Can Universities play a bigger role?

12:24:11          From Sarah Davies to All panelists: I hate the “smart” labeling too. It presupposes that cities NOT run by tech (and thus run by people) are somehow not “smart.” I feel the same way about calling them “intelligent” cities.

12:24:29          From Jean-Noé Landry (Open North) to All panelists: Here is our definition of an Open Smart Cities: An Open Smart City is where residents, civil society, academics, and the private sector collaborate with public officials to mobilize data and technologies when warranted in an ethical, accountable and transparent way to govern the city as a fair, viable and liveable commons and balance economic development, social progress and environmental responsibility. https://www.opennorth.ca/publications/#open-smart-cities-guide

12:24:30          From Robert Lane: Trade “Smart’ for Conscious and meeting the needs of the citizens without taking away their ownership of the assets of their cities

12:24:31          From Lauralyn Johnston: giving up privacy for personal and communal safety may be an acceptable trade-off. The question I heard about ‘smart cities’ before was who owns the data and who profits?

12:24:54          From john ARcher: Can tech communities only occur in large format master planned communities? Alphabet said it was only feasible with control of the whole port lands area. What about our current land use planning which is made up of millions of small land holdings – is this feasible with diffused land ownership?

12:24:57          From Steve Munro: Brian made an excellent point that “Smart” has been too software-centric when there are other aspects of technology that are just as important.

12:25:15          From Suzan Krepostman: https://theintercept.com/2020/05/08/andrew-cuomo-eric-schmidt-coronavirus-tech-shock-doctrine/

12:26:15          From Breanne Bateman: Does anyone know how to enable closed captions in zoom?

12:27:00          From Julius Lindsay: Governments should be tech companies, but they are not. they are woefully behind

12:27:05          From Abby S: @breanne on the left (on a laptop) there is audio settings.

12:27:11          From Abby S: You can scroll there to accessibility

12:27:20          From Lauralyn Johnston: vast parts of the city don’t have wifi. Or devices.

12:27:33          From Abby S: I’m not sure how it works on a iPad or tablet

12:28:01          From Abby S: @Breanne (lower left)

12:28:23          From Dina Sarhane: We definitely have the talent, we just don’t have the demand. We need our governments to support innovative small businesses. I have 2 small businesses in construction and design, we are doing really innovative work in wood fabrication. I loose to larger and older corporations all the time! I don’t have a chance to prove what our innovative work can do for our cities. Lets give local innovation a chance at significant civic projects.

12:29:10          From john ARcher: there is a lot of tech for tech sake that can be wasteful. There are programs that will notify me when sidewalks have too much snow – well I can just outside and know it is time to shovel snow. Should discuss being sold on too much tech for cities.

12:29:54          From Maureen Shuell: Will Sidewalk’s withdrawal be discussed?

12:30:27          From michael morrissey: Pls don’t forget to reflect on Quayside…Huge missed opportunity to lead smart conscious city, exponential digital era

12:31:22          From Hillary Buchan-Terrell: How do we coach governments on how to manage these big tech projects? They are notoriously bad at implementing complex software and data projects.

12:31:25          From Manuel to All panelists: Such a good point! how can we work proactively

12:31:26          From Lou Zacharilla to All panelists: In the USA we also build municipal networks. In places like Dublin, OH. John Jung knows about this. Do they do it in Canada? Or do your big incumbents control it all?

12:31:27          From Gillian Mason: Disparity according to the OECD access is not only infrastructure but also in skills upgrading; serious, intelligent, well resourced skills upgrading so people also can use the technology once we have got the hard infrastructure in place. With all the willingness in the world. without the investment in skills training, we are leaving increasingly portion of popn behind. We are already investing in the resources to upgrade skills but not with the benefit of the intelligence to inform the training with surgical precision.

12:31:31          From Ana-Francisca de la Mora to All panelists: agreed can we get back to the topic of the future after sidewalk labs

12:31:33          From Joshua Brown to All panelists: Same question as Maureen. Keen to understand what the signaling implication of Sidewalks decision are for Toronto

12:32:02          From Geraldine Cahill: There you go Dina! Tara agrees with you:) Procurement systems need agility.

12:32:17          From Dina Sarhane: Totally share that sentiment with Tara!

12:32:20          From michael morrissey: Google, SWL had the ability to realize CONVERGENCE

12:32:26          From Manuel to All panelists: *proactively on being able to work with companies and balance the procurement laws to get “emergency response” BEFORE we are hit with the emergency.

12:32:39          From Les Klein to All panelists: Sidewalk Labs had the opportunity to demonstrate that the private sector has the vision and capability of addressing these bigger issues far more quickly and with more nimbleness than traditional government. We were so afraid of what “independence” meant that we chased them away.

12:33:00          From Gloria Venczel: Smart technology was the tail that wagged the dog at Waterfront Toronto. Tech is an add-on, or an enhancement of innovative, equitable and vibrant cities but someone or some group has to understand sustainable city building. While community consultation is fundamental, dispersed range of comments will not yield answers without city building expertise. Tech can never drive city building …

12:33:11          From Anna Pace to All panelists: It would be great to have another session just on Quayside.

12:33:17          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: It is a very tired line to say that the issues with progress in city development is about government funding. Our thinking needs to go far beyond this level of basic thinking if we are to innovate at the level required to solve the issues we now face in the 21st century. Sidewalk’s exist was a direct result at the lack of vision and courage to make decisions by Toronto.

12:33:19          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3fEfm9v

12:35:21          From Ralph cipolla to All panelists: how do communities north of Toronto deal with bringing their economy back

12:35:23          From Gillian Mason: Digital Divide must be overcome; yes. There are those who are working on this that no one is picking this up/listening to. Thank you Jean-Noe.

12:35:32          From Lauralyn Johnston: Agility in procurement is often at odds with transparency and accountability. City of Toronto learned this with the MFP inquiry

12:35:54          From Lester Brown: how do Free trade Agreements fit into procurement policies

12:36:10          From Frances Wilbur to All panelists: Local procurement policies have to go along with some from of capacity building so that local organizations can respond and actually be able to provide services.

12:36:11          From michael morrissey: Jean-Noe, what was your 4th point

12:36:52          From Lauralyn Johnston: https://www.toronto.ca/business-economy/doing-business-with-the-city/social-procurement-program/

12:37:06          From Abby S: @Michael Morrissey -thank you. Wondered the same thing.

12:37:11          From Patrick Phillips: We saw a material shift in Sidewalk’s positioning of technology in the Quayside project. Early on, tech was the driver (“a neighborhood built from the internet up”) and over time tech was subordinated to traditional planning and development concerns.

12:37:25          From Jacques Priol: Hi from France, thank you for this webinar. The withdrawal of SWL is a subject that interests in Europe because the project can be reborn anywhere in the world.

12:38:02          From Lester Brown: many things offered by Sidewalk were not asked for or neded. An example was the autonomous vehicle only driven on the site. A 12 acre site. Easy walking.

12:38:40          From Patrick Phillips: Great point about how Sidewalk’s somewhat-overwhelming response to the ambitious RFP created unrealistic expectations on all sides.

12:39:09          From kathleen Llewellyn-Thoams: Agreed Lester and Patrick

12:40:55          From John Fox to All panelists: there is a lot to say for private companies who respond realistically to RFPs. If the RFP was asking for too much, then I have to ask: should it have failed in the first place?

12:41:05          From Negin Minaei:

Exactly, We had some professional seminars at the CITY Institute at the York University with urbanists and academics from the Netherlands and Europe, they indeed rightly were more worried about the progress of this as some of us do here in Toronto! Worried about the future of urbanization and urban planning by some kind of Google algorithms and AI

12:41:25          From Patrick Phillips: I think Sidewalk’s future will focus on the “Labs” part of their name—investing, incubating, publicizing, and applying these technologies. We’ve learned that big tech companies are ill-equipped to act as developers. The risks are too big and complex, and the returns are relatively modest.

12:41:57          From Chris Fraser to All panelists: Be great if there was some discussion about the potential for IP development in cities – where

12:42:18          From Chris Fraser to All panelists: governments can also develop their own systems to improve service delivery.

12:42:29          From Canadian Urban Institute: Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:42:39          From Jiri Skopek to All panelists: Smart city needs to happen one building at a time adding to a connected mesh of smart city

12:43:02          From Lauralyn Johnston: the city still has to provide all the basic services as a city. How does technology improve that performance is the key question.

12:43:10          From Anna Pace: Sidewalk offered a lot more innovation beyond the “smart “ discussion. A discussion on other aspects of Sidewalk would be very interesting.

12:43:11          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: Sidewalk’s departure is a nail in the coffin for indigenous innovation in Canada in regard to cities. It’s a vote against the fundamentally anti-tech approach from Canadian governments.

12:43:33          From Gloria Venczel: I don’t hear too much conversation on pedestrian oriented, equitable city building. With covid- equity will be fundamental as inequity is a statistically significant indicator of pandemic spread. Case in point- this conversation is so irrelevant and ivory tower around venture capital. Not hearing too much about people- the raison d’etre of cities.

12:43:35          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3fEfm9v

12:44:26          From Abby S: Exactly Mary

12:44:29          From michael morrissey: Agreed w Anna, SWL was a VISION, comprehensive, beyond the capacity of any developer or city

12:44:40          From Brandon Slopack: How do municipal planners integrate ‘smart tech’ into land use planning? Any recommended resources?

12:44:44          From Ric Amis to All panelists: Company Town!

12:44:47          From BJ Danylchuk: Gloria….agreed….the community – the people – aren’t in the conversation – just business and government ….missing architectures of engagement and co-creation…

12:45:03          From Brooks Barnett to All panelists: commercial real estate owns and manages land. isn’t the model moving forward that CRE brings Sidewalk/other providers in as partners? tech doesn’t need to worry about land portion in that scenario.

12:45:03          From Gloria Venczel: Bingo BJ!

12:45:35          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: Complexity is never an excuse for timely problem solving. Governments are notorious for promoting stagnation over innovation and Canada / Toronto should be ashamed at this exit from Sidewalk.

12:45:44          From Canadian Urban Institute: CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at covidresponse@canurb.org

12:45:49          From Lorne Cappe: If we just “bought” their vision and no land grab, would SWL even be interested?

12:46:01          From michael morrissey: Thinking big is a non starter for Municipalities

12:46:11          From Danilo Perkovic to All panelists: When we are talking about the Quayside project, we are not talking about paving roads here. This was a tender for a smart city, and only a few proponents had the knowledge and experience to bid on, and successfully deliver it.

12:46:20          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: We need less government in general.

12:46:22          From Mounir Kabbara to All panelists: consultants can bridge that gap

12:46:26          From David Brown to All panelists: I wonder what the panel thinks about the similarities between the new developments with shopping centres that have a much longer history. Shopping centres seek to mimic real cities by recreating city life but one that is entirely controlled by the company that owns the centre. For me in many ways shopping malls were a precursor to Sidewalk.

12:46:54          From Mounir Kabbara: consultants bridge the gap usually between government and tech-based solution providers

12:47:01          From BJ Danylchuk: Michael…I suggest that is too broad a generalization….I think it may depend on the municipality – and what is meant by “big”.

12:47:34          From Lauralyn Johnston: thinking big may be an issue with the voters… that’s what leadership is for

12:47:46          From David Brown: Opps. The “me” in the comment about shopping centres is David Brown, McGill, Montreal

12:48:11          From michael morrissey: Leadership…hard to find

12:48:16          From Danilo Perkovic to All panelists: @Tara that is spot on…commercial developers are hiring “technologists” to understand and better decide what goes into their buildings

12:48:16          From Jiya Benni: Agreed, Lauralyn and Gloria.

12:48:22          From Gil Penalosa: A huge problem of Sidewalk Toronto was the lack of City Vision by the Mayor, Premier, and PM so no level of government took a leadership role. Waterfront TO is amazing, much great done. They just saw it as image or financial or other but no clue on how it would fit in creating a vibrant and healthy GTA for all. Without political leadership… it. Plus too many people looking for problems to solutions and not enough for solutions to problems.

12:48:36          From Anna Pace to All panelists: Clearly WT thought very big in terms of its aspirations in the RFP as Brian indicated earlier

12:48:52          From Lou Zacharilla to All panelists: We get that cities, tech & life are difficult. Geez. Not exactly an insight. The question Siri needs to ask and answer is: “Where is the balance point between the private sector skill and public sector responsibility?”

12:49:23          From Mick Malowany: It sounds like there’s a bridge between (private sphere) technologists and (public sphere) government or government-like institutions (public agencies, etc.) — I’m curious to hear opinions on how civil engineers and planners are well/poorly positioned as mediators in that relationship.

12:49:58          From Zoe Knowles to All panelists: in order to “think big,” does that require a restructuring of toronto & GTA municipalities by developing a “micro-regional” body that oversees regional issues like housing, transit, and ec dev?

12:50:02          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: Waiting for government is like waiting for Godot

12:50:05          From Canadian Urban Institute: Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:50:08          From Mounir Kabbara: well governments rely on consultants. I work in that space and they need a lot of hand holding

12:50:38          From Zoe Knowles: in order to “think big,” does that require a restructuring of toronto & GTA municipalities by developing a “micro-regional” body that oversees regional issues like housing, transit, and ec dev?

12:50:39          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: Government is the problem not the solution.

12:50:40          From Mounir Kabbara: yes RFPs is a good point. government needs the desired outcomes

12:50:49          From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk

12:50:51          From LoriAnn Girvan: interesting that the key data needed now – contract tracing – many cities are going back to basics – hiring people tracers vs tech

12:50:59          From Mounir Kabbara: when government interferes with solutions it backfires

12:51:12          From LoriAnn Girvan: oops – contact tracing!

12:51:42          From Mounir Kabbara: @Zoe good point about the different roles of local governments. definitely something to consider

12:51:53          From Josie Lee: @LoriAnn Girvan – tech solutions to contact tracing invites concerns around privacy…

12:52:05          From Mick Malowany: @Mounir Do you distinguish between interference in and engagement with solutions? Are there different results with engagement?

12:52:25          From Abby S: As long as municipalities (and other levels0 are stretched for financing, the impulse for private sector solutions will contiue.

12:52:34          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: All great Canadian talent goes to the US. Why?

12:52:39          From Gloria Venczel: There is also the devastating after-effects of the former Ontario Municipal Board, which kicked all local municipal, fine grained local development decisions to the OMB appeal board made up of political appointees. There was not that push and pull between municipal in-house urban design staff that made Vancouver a global livable city wrt to developers and their architects. Local residents stopped trying, as did the city building professions. This appears to have hamstrung Toronto in-house capacity and vision around walkable, vibrant and equitable city building.

12:52:41          From Steve Munro: Contact tracing requires talking to real people to figure out their behaviour and movements. Tech is needed to consolidate the data, but person to person activity is needed to acquire it and chase the details.

12:52:45          From BJ Danylchuk: The proper articulation of an RFP is not about procurement….it is further upstream – in the articulation of the multidimensional nature of the problem, and the strategic characteristics of the desired solution – i.e. the Big “What” – – and that then leaves a big space for innovative folks to articulate a “How” that meets the strategic requirements.

12:52:46          From Mark Richardson: Mick – is the Career-Success of individual Civil Engineers and City Planners dependent upon keep Politicians (and their short-term needs) happy..? Many have been cowed by those Political restraints (eg. Gardiner East Rebuild).

12:53:01          From Mick Malowany: Definitely a consideration

12:53:03          From BJ Danylchuk: …and generating that kind of competency is about developing multidimensional critical thinking…

12:53:06          From Mounir Kabbara: @mick – we can suggest potential solutions providers and help in negotiation

12:53:17          From Mounir Kabbara: but honestly right now I’m involved in scoping an RfP

12:53:38          From Robert McKaye: What types of city infrastructure are in place/development that can employ a multi-partner and multi-experience input? Problems that expand beyond a single land parcel – What are those key areas of city building? Transit? Public Space networks? Retail? Can these components of city building present opportunities for the diversity of partner and company that is being discussed?

12:54:32          From Mounir Kabbara: wow this hits home. so true. we can’t burn the potential vendors

12:54:37          From Chris Fraser to All panelists: Classic procurement issue in North America is how to buy PPE during a pandemic. It’s painful to see BC (before COVID) purchasing approaches of buying low cost, and buying local, when the products needed for healthcare and employees

12:54:39          From Mounir Kabbara: through a poorly written rfp

12:54:52          From Alan McNair: Latest comments by panel suggest to me that the discussion ;about what tech can do for us and what we need it to do and who decides on this is much like what natural green infrastructure can do for us in helping to resolve many of our municipal infrastructure and quality of life issues in ouir communities. Any panel comments on this idea?

12:54:55          From michael morrissey: Toronto is a fairly ordinary city. IMO, SWL elevated the city to another level and discourse that represented the future of city building and consciously shaping the convergence of tech and the built environment, the SWL showroom was full of so many innovations and new thinking.

12:55:10          From Chris Fraser to All panelists: are not local and not easily purchased (almost a warfare situation).

12:55:21          From Gloria Venczel: I don’t hear anyone who has identified a socio-economic city building problem to which tech is the answer.

12:55:29          From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

https://canurb.org/citytalk

12:55:30          From Mounir Kabbara: tech is an enabler to let cities make better decisions that improve quality of life

12:55:45          From BJ Danylchuk: Robert – a great example or two is the current process underway around transit extensions in Toronto – the original process used for the Downtown Relief Line, which was stopped when the Ontario government replaced the design with the Ontario Line – and the process supporting the Ontario line is more “check the box” rather than have real engagement….

12:56:00          From Mounir Kabbara: who decides? you need multi stakeholder engagement in decision making

12:56:11          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: We can’t keep talking about government when thinking about innovation. This is fundamentally anti-tech thinking.

12:56:24          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: It’s anti-progress.

12:57:16          From kathleen Llewellyn-Thoams: Mods is what Vancouver did in 2018

12:57:35          From James Chan to All panelists: QUOTE REQUEST FOR ARTICLE

Thank you to all the panellists for your insights – I’m sure there was much more you didn’t have a chance to get to.

I’m collecting a roundup of thoughts on Sidewalk Labs’ departure for an article on Future of Good (www.futureofgood.co).

ASK: Would you be interested in sharing a distillation of your thoughts on “what the end of this project means for the future of smart cities in Canada?”

Looking for ~ 100 words by Wednesday if possible, not just from a Toronto-centric or urbanism perspective, but to help social impact leaders make sense of smart cities projects underway in communities across the country. I’m at james@futureofgood.co – thank you again.

12:57:37          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3fEfm9v

12:57:41          From kathleen Llewellyn-Thoams: Biggest challenge was the Building Code compliance

12:57:57          From Nicola Casciato: Toronto doesn’t need to be “smarter” it needs to be more diverse in terms of diverse industries, manufacturing and employment. Cities make their money based on taxes and parking tickets. Lets not forget how the future of 3D printing will change the employment and manufacturing landscape over the next 20 years.

12:58:16          From Lauralyn Johnston: And for modular – getting providers. Still mostly out west.

12:58:17          From Gloria Venczel: Has anyone followed Jim Balsillie. Mr. Blackberry Smart Phone? Sidewalk labs would have crippled and destroyed the tech insdusrty in Canada. Not an economic answer for Canada

12:58:35          From Canadian Urban Institute: Chat will stay open after the webinar ends, so feel free to keep the discussion going.

12:59:17          From Lou Zacharilla: So all the Volvo car owners have spoken. Now what do we do for essential workers? The people who have to show up?

12:59:18          From Patrick Phillips: Hard to imagine that government will be less risk-averse after the pandemic

12:59:27          From John Fox to All panelists: But there are couple coming on line in Ontario. It’s becoming an important industry.

12:59:33          From Josie Lee: @CUI – Will the chat transcript also be available along with the webinar recording? Would hate to lose all this great discussion…

12:59:41          From John Fox to All panelists: Sorry – a couple of modular providers…

13:00:13          From Daniel Nedecki to All panelists: Why do most talented entrepreneurs defect to the US? We have some serious questions to answer in regard to our culture of anti-progress and anti-innovation here in Canada.

13:00:18          From Lars Henriksson: How come cities in Europe, e.g. Stockholm, Goteborg, Malmo, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Berlin, Amsterdam just to mention a few can build innovative sustainable cities without outsourcing to companies like Sidewalk Labs?

13:00:19          From michael morrissey: I appreciated SWL’s openness to share the ideas and innovations and vision both in NY office and at the showroom. You don’t see this open forum in the current model of city and development community.

13:00:23          From John Fox: THere are a couple of modular builders coming in Ontario. It’s going to be an important industry.

13:00:26          From Sue Hallatt: Chat will be posted at canurb.org/citytalk. follow the links to this recording. transcript will be there too!

13:00:34          From Mathieu Goetzke: WFT should focus on the two main objectives for a growing metropolis: affordable housing and sustainable mobility.

13:01:14          From Gloria Venczel: @Michael- that is the right question. Tech is not core to sustainable cities- it is only a subservient tool.

13:01:38          From James Chan to All panelists: QUOTE REQUEST FOR ARTICLE

Thank you to all the panellists for your insights – I’m sure there was much more you didn’t have a chance to get to.

I’m collecting a roundup of thoughts on Sidewalk Labs’ departure for an article on Future of Good (www.futureofgood.co).

ASK: Would you be interested in sharing a distillation of your thoughts on “what the end of this project means for the future of smart cities in Canada?”

Looking for ~ 100 words by Wednesday if possible, not just from a Toronto-centric or urbanism perspective, but to help social impact leaders make sense of smart cities projects underway in communities across the country. I’m at james@futureofgood.co – thank you again.

13:01:38          From Patrick Phillips: Nice concluding point by Tara!

13:01:49          From Siri Agrell: Great concluding point!

13:01:56          From BJ Danylchuk: Thanks everyone!!

13:02:01          From berjit takhar to All panelists: Great discussion !!!!

13:02:03          From kathleen Llewellyn-Thoams: Great Panel discussion. Thanks CUI.

13:02:04          From Geraldine Cahill: Thanks all. Great discussion again #citytalk

13:02:08          From Toby Greenbaum to All panelists: This was a great session. Thanks

13:02:08          From Farhan Dhanani to All panelists: Thanks all for sharing your stories!

13:02:08          From Abby S: That you to the panelists!

13:02:09          From berjit takhar to All panelists: Thanks everyone !

13:02:10          From Jean-Noé Landry (Open North) to All panelists: Thank you, that was great!

13:02:11          From Julie Taylor: Thank you so much panelists and Mary! Great job facilitating!

13:02:12          From Charles Crenna: Thank you for the interesting event!

13:02:15          From Daniela Bodden: Thank you!

13:02:16          From Emily Rosen to All panelists: Thanks all for the great chat!

13:02:16          From Eva Chu: Thanks everyone! I really enjoyed this panel!!!

13:02:17          From Jeff Sowa to All panelists: Thank you all for your time and sharing your knowledge!!

13:02:17          From Lisa Mactaggart: This has been a great conversation. Thank you panel.

13:02:21          From Mick Malowany: Thank you! Such a great talk everyone!

13:02:21          From Gillian Mason: well done Mary

13:02:23          From Zahra Ebrahim to All panelists: Thanks Mary!

13:02:24          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3fEfm9v

13:02:25          From Lisa Cavicchia, CUI Staff: Thanks to ULI Toronto!

13:02:45          From Lester Brown: Thank you, a great discussion.

13:02:54          From michael morrissey: Agreed thanks ULI!

13:02:57          From dan schumacher to All panelists: Thank you beneficial

13:03:24          From Ivan Sierralta to All panelists: Thanks to all speakers. Great initiative CUI!

13:04:02          From Geraldine Cahill: While this chat is still on-going…and knowing that it’s not about SWL, have people seen this video on the Port Lands development? It’s cheesy, but the vision is exciting. Does anyone know much more about it? I stumbled on the video by chance one day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT83KPN3JR4

13:04:18          From Alex Speigel: Great panel discussion and excellent points made by attendees in this chat session. Thank you.

13:06:06          From Canadian Urban Institute: CUI wishes to thank ULI for their partnership in today’s webinar.

13:09:03          From Martin Gerwin: Thanks for a great panel discussion. One lesson the whole community should take away from the experience with Sidewalk is to insist on transparency from all participants at every stage of the negotiations. It was not a good sign when we discovered that Sidewalk had designs, in terms of data collection, on a much larger area than the land they would actually own.

13:11:33          From Canadian Urban Institute: If you can leave your final comments now, we will close the chat in a couple of minutes. Thanks for a great discussion.