Privacy and Smart Cities: A Canadian Survey

Report by Sara Bannerman and Angela Orasch: “This report presents the findings of a national survey of Canadians about smart-city privacy conducted in October and November 2018. Our research questions were: How concerned are Canadians about smart-city privacy? How do these concerns intersect with age, gender, ethnicity, and location? Moreover, what are the expectations of Canadians with regards to their ability to control, use, or opt-out of data collection in smart-city context? What rights and privileges do Canadians feel are appropriate with regard to data self-determination, and what types of data are considered more sensitive than others?

What is a smart city?
A ‘smart city’ adopts digital and data-driven technologies in the planning, management and delivery of municipal services. Information and communications technologies (ICTs), data analytics, and the internet of
things (IoT) are some of the main components of these technologies, joined by web design, online marketing campaigns and digital services. Such technologies can include smart utility and transportation infrastructure, smart cards, smart transit, camera and sensor networks, or data collection by businesses to provide customized advertisements or other services. Smart-city technologies “monitor, manage and regulate city flows and processes, often in real-time” (Kitchin 2014, 2).

In 2017, a framework agreement was established between Waterfront Toronto, the organization charged with revitalizing Toronto’s waterfront, and Sidewalk Labs, parent company of Google, to develop a smart city on Toronto’s Eastern waterfront (Sidewalk Toronto 2018). This news was met with questions and concerns from experts in data privacy and the public at large regarding what was to be included in Sidewalk Lab’s smart-city vision. How would the overall governance structure function? How were the privacy rights of residents going to be protected, and what mechanisms, if any, would ensure that protection? The Toronto waterfront is just one of numerous examples of smart-city developments….(More)”.