Canadian Smart City Experiments: Emerging Trends from the Smart City Challenge and Sidewalk Lab’s Quayside

Authors: Pamela Robinson*, Ryerson University
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: smart cities, experimentation, governance, digital urbanism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: 8222, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the 2017 Federal budget the Government of Canada declared its intent to spark urban innovation with an eleven year, $300 million investment in the new Smart Cities Challenge (SCC–Government of Canada, 2017). Of the 130 submissions, the 20 finalists will submit their proposals in March 2019. Similarly, by March 2019 Sidewalk Labs should have submitted its Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) for Quayside, the 12-acre parcel of land on Toronto’s waterfront. This competition and the Alphabet (Google) Sidewalk Labs investment of $50 million (USD) in the planning of the Quayside project on Toronto’s waterfront are significant and early investments in smart city efforts in Canadian cities. What kinds of smart city experiments do these projects represent?

As smart city momentum begins to move from plan to implementation, this early evaluation of proposed Canadian projects is important. Worldwide we are seeing smart cities take myriad forms and Toronto, Canada is home to Sidewalk Lab’s first large-scale planning foray. The analysis of these projects will show common threads and proposed innovations across Canadian projects and will allow for exploring points of connection with the broader smart city movement emerging worldwide. This paper will conclude with reflections about what challenges and opportunities these projects present for smart city urbanism in North American cities.

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