Public sceptical over Toronto’s smart city

Toronto’s new waterfront ‘smart city’ is facing high levels of criticism, which was expressed at the public meeting regarding the plans on Monday.

Most of the issues raised were over the privacy of data collection.

Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs, hopes to turn Toronto’s waterfront into a smart community that will contain all over 5G internet, green power, and automatic rain covers.

Data collection

However, controversy and doubt were raised by citizens over Sidewalk Labs saying that they will be collecting data from residents of the smart city through sensors and cameras. Sidewalk Labs claim it will be a way of progressing and improving on the development of the city.

In the first meeting of its kind, inhabitants of Toronto brought up their lack of trust in Google when it comes to protecting data.

One resident said, “Databases get hacked again and again… and nobody does anything. When I think of privacy I don’t think of Google.”

As part of the 1,500-page plan of the smart city, it’s noted that any data collected will be kept secret. But another resident brought up that with the evolution of AI, even if data is anonymized, she thinks it won’t be kept that way for long. The woman said, “The idea of being de-identified will be almost impossible 24 months from now.”

Waterfront Toronto board chair Stephen Diamond has already brought up concerns over the data tracking system and wants to see where it fits with current government principles.

A thriving community

It’s hoped that the waterside project will be home to 6,000 residents with various levels of affordability and animates throughout. The plan is estimated to cost around $1.3 Billion and will be purposefully built to be accessible all year round.

Meg Davis, Waterfront Toronto’s chief development officer, spoke at the meeting to try and reassure the city’s inhabitants the positives to the development. Davis said she wanted to show, “how an innovation community can thrive on the waterfront,”