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.