Making Social Impact Sense of Smart Cities in Canada

A guide to understanding the social impact potential — and limits — of smart cities

Why It Matters

For all their virtues, it must be said that smart cities can’t solve all the social issues rooted in complex and entrenched systems. Leader in the world of impact have a role to play in maximizing the social potential of smart city initiatives where you live.

Smart cities are enjoying a moment in the spotlight.

A number of municipalities have been dipping their toes into this domain in recent years, often in conjunction with tech or telecom companies.

The highest profile example of this type of public-private partnership was announced in October 2017, when Waterfront Toronto, a tripartite government agency charged with the development of industrial lands adjacent to downtown Toronto, chose Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs, to envision and build a new neighbourhood “from the internet up.”

A few months later, the federal government launched the Smart Cities Challenge, a competition between large cities, small towns, and Indigenous communities with a tota

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