Issues arise around Sidewalk Labs’ smart city project in Toronto, as experts state the company is positioning itself as a governing body regarding data protection.
A battle is going on between developers, data experts and local activists regarding 1B USD smart city-project Quayside in Toronto. Sidewalk Labs plans to install a layer of sensors that measure traffic, air quality, noise, and building occupancy in order to easier regulate building temperatures, energy usages and possibly implement transit discounts. The data is collected by cameras or lasers and this evokes the fear that data will be shared with other governments or entities outside Toronto and Canada. In addition, Sidewalk Labs plans to allow other companies to take part in the project as developers of digital infrastructure in Quayside. At one side this would improve competition, on the other side, this introduces a new set of players with their own interests.
As a response Sidewalk Labs initiated a proposal for an independent trust that would serve as the gatekeeper of “urban data”. Bianca Wylie, co-founder of Tech Reset Canada, states it is not up to Sidewalk Labs to implement a data trust, but an issue between the government and its residents. According to Nasma Ahment, executive director at Digital Justice Lab, Sidewalk Labs is approaching the project as if it’s a governing body.