Privacy battle Toronto

What We're Clicking On – October 26th, 2018

In our weekly news filter ‘What We’re Clicking On’, we share our thoughts on the most interesting articles relating to the future of cities, buildings and interiors.

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.

Read the entire article here and more about the project here.

Portland General Electric is launching the nation’s largest smart grid project pilot. The project aims to cover 3 Oregon cities and to include more than 20,000 customers. The test will be a huge shift for participating customers, who will get direct insight into the demands of the regional electrical grid and their interactions with it. Smart devices will play an increasingly important role in customers’ lives which increases the essence of interplay with the grid for storage and reducing demand at peak times.
Moving toward a more energy efficient economy is one of the biggest steps cities can take to fight climate change as they have greater control over utility contracts. The next step in these kinds of projects is the modernization of the grids.

Read the full article on Smart Cities Dive.

Solease believes that it contributes to the acceleration of energy transition by taking away the hurdles of investing in solar panels. The Dutch startup rents out the panels for a monthly fee that is in many cases lower than their energy bill. This month Solease received 2M EUR through crowdfunding to further expand its business. In the future they plan to offer sustainable alternatives such as heat pumps, as not all roofs are suited for solar panels. Solar panels are big business in the Netherlands, the amount of solar panels increased with 40% in 2017.

Read more here.