"Smart" City coming to Ottawa?

I was stirred to write a blog post after stumbling across an op-ed titled “Forget about Toronto, Sidewalk Labs – build a smart neighbourhood in Ottawa instead”.

I have been following Toronto’s efforts at smart city development for the past 9 months (aka the Sidewalk Labs debacle), and was alarmed to read this same group might bring their bad behaviour to Ottawa.

Sidewalk Labs’ smart city in Toronto has woeful accountability (and its leaked plans are terrifying), with high profile resignations from leading tech experts. And yet they continue to go forward. Explain why would anyone would want that for their city?

The op-ed author says that a data policy is necessary upfront (which I absolutely agree with) while in the same breath telling us we should “inform these businesses they could start developing a smart community in Ottawa today”. Seems like a contradiction there. A public data policy must be something that is carefully debated and not rushed through. It’s exactly this kind of “we’ll figure it out as we go” mentality that got Toronto into trouble. It opens the door for corporate definition and interference in policy (and gas lighting).

Learning from Toronto’s failure, and with many thanks to the citizens advocating in opposition there, here is what Ottawa can and should do:

Thank you to OBJ for the balanced journalism in also including an article on the privacy concerns surrounding smart city development.

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