Latest Faculty of Information News

Sidewalk Toronto: A critical look at this smart city initiative

Submitted on Thursday, April 25, 2019

Privacy expert and Professor Emeritus Andrew Clement recently gave a timely public lecture on the Sidewalk Toronto smart city initiative.

The talk (available on video)  took place on April 23rd just as Sidewalk Labs — a Google sister company working with the Waterfront Toronto organization— was preparing to make public its Master Innovation Development Plan. The MIDP, as it’s known, is expected to ignite heated discussion when it is announced in June

As both a critic of the Sidewalk Toronto project and a member of Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory Panel, Professor Clement offered a unique perspective and insights. He has been frequently quoted in media reports on the project, which has attracted world-wide attention for its ambitious vision and ongoing controversies over data privacy and security concerns.

With his talk, Professor Clement hoped to contribute to the forthcoming public discussion of the MIDP. He reviewed Sidewalk’s proposed digital infrastructures, networked sensors, open data sharing models (e.g Civic Data Trust) and applications (e.g. mobility management) in light of several core concerns for advancing the public interest in ’smart city’ initiatives, notably surveillance, privacy and democratic governance.

He also talked about Sidewalk’s use of Utopian city images like the one above.

See the  video of Andrew Clement’s talk as well as slides.