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Wednesday, 1.04.2020
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

Cities around the world have been paying very close attention to Sidewalk Labs’ efforts to win approval for a smart-city development in Canada’s largest city.

After months of negotiations with the tri-government agency responsible for the Toronto project, and an initial plan that was met with significant pushback on issues around real estate, intellectual property, data privacy and community engagement, the Google sister company has produced a new, more limited proposal that addresses Torontonians’ major qualms about the Quayside project.

There are still several procedural hurdles to be jumped before a final decision in March, but the city’s conditional approval of the revised proposal shows that it got much of what it wanted from its negotiations with big tech. Good on Sidewalk Labs for listening and making material adjustments to accommodate the concerns that were raised. It’s a lesson for cities everywhere that want to understand how to balance big corporate investment with forward-looking regulations and the best outcomes possible for citizens.

There is no single formula for smart-city innovation and development, but here are three principles that can help guide cities trying to navigate these poorly charted waters:

1. Make Innovation Inclusive

We are living in an age of great transition. Technology is simultaneously connecting far corners of the world while alienating marginalized groups within communities. At the same time, public-sector leaders need to address serious issues like climate change, biodiversity loss, increasing income inequality, and the opportunity and impact of forces like automation and artificial intelligence that are changing the workplace.

In order to update government systems that prioritize public benefit, regulators at all levels must recognize the agency of civic activists, civically minded corporations, startups and entrepreneurs, and local and underserved communities. The public sector needs to bring diverse voices that can be heard across policy and regulatory processes, from the setting of agendas to the innovation and enforcement of rules.

In Toronto, Sidewalk Labs agreed to add procurement policies that prioritize partnerships with, and investment in, local businesses. They also plan to boost engagement with existing local innovation hubs and commission a report outlining how Sidewalk Labs can support the overall growth of the city’s existing urban innovation ecosystem. Sidewalk Labs has also adjusted its approach to intellectual property by allowing local innovators a global license to use its Canadian patents in their innovations.

Public good, economic stimulation and social equity should have been at the center of Sidewalk’s development plans for Quayside from the beginning, but it’s promising to see the project’s updated Statement of Principles addressing each element head-on.

2. Regulatory Innovation Is Local

Our regulations need to acknowledge that our cities are facing seismic economic and societal upheavals and address these problems by prioritizing the future over the past. Unfortunately, regulatory innovation often gets bogged down by bureaucracy. Its success is dependent on disparate actions by equally disparate regulators at all levels of government, not to mention international trade agreements.

Regulatory modernization needs to be initiated as close as possible to the people the regulations affect and led by agencies with the ability to actually implement. In Toronto, the tri-government development agency has a unique opportunity to bring together regulators at all three levels of government to participate in an integrated, place-based regulatory innovation zone throughout the smart-city planning process. Success for them, and for other cities around the world, will require a new model of cross-governmental collaboration and new capacities in layered governance.

3. Data Governance Matters

Our old approach to data privacy, which revolves around the protection of analog personal information, is no match for the always-on, hyper-connected world we now inhabit. Governments now need to develop classifications based on acceptable use rather than on the type of data or how it was collected. We have to create publicly regulated systems where people have more control and trust over how they store, manage and use personal data that has been generated online.

Governments and data governance leaders need to look at new data collection models that preserve both privacy and anonymity: civic data trusts, safe sharing sites, personal data stores, secure data collaboration platforms and other technologies.

In Toronto, Sidewalk reached an agreement for the tri-government agency to take the lead on data governance with the Quayside project. The agency will establish smart-city data standards that mirror the depth and success of Toronto’s green building standards. Meanwhile, Sidewalk will lay out the citizen data it wants to collect and how it proposes to collect it, in an effort to boost transparency and trust.

There are no iron-clad rules for these projects, which are wrapped up in the endlessly complex agendas of multiple stakeholders. Cities and their innovation partners have to be transparent, fair and collaborative to reach common ground. But the principles above are a starting point — a framework for creating the conditions for smart cities that balance the goals of shareholders and the needs of urban citizens.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Yung Wu

Quelle/Source: Forbes, 07.01.2019

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