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News July 20, 2020

CFE launches new panel to tackle smart cities issues

The Centre for Free Expression is launching a “smart cities” advisory panel to provide expert advice and to assist civic engagement in communities considering “smart cities” initiatives.
“Communities across Canada are turning to data-driven and technology-based solutions that they hope will increase the quality of both public services and the lives of their residents,” said James L. Turk, director of the Centre. “But, as we saw with the ill-fated Quayside-Sidewalk Labs project in Toronto, the allure tech of fixes can be misleading.”

The CFE advisory panel will be a resource to communities and their residents.  Since the widespread use of technology does not necessarily make a community “smart” and as these initiatives are not exclusive to cities, the panel is named the Digital Communities Advisory Panel (DCAP).

Panel members are: 

  • Nabeel Ahmed, Programme Officer, One-to-One Advisory Service, Open North 
  • Lisa Austin, Professor, Chair in Law and Technology, University of Toronto
  • Tanya Chung-Tiam-Fook, Senior Lead, Indigenous Engagement, Evergreen and Future Cities Canada
  • Nehal El-Hadi, Science + Technology Editor, The Conversation Canada; Editor-in-Chief, Studio Magazine 
  • Blayne Haggart, Associate Professor of Political Science, Brock University
  • Fahmida Kamali, Manager of Operations & Special Projects, Ryerson Leadership Lab 
  • Tamir Israel, Staff Lawyer, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)
  • Brenda McPhail, Director, Privacy, Technology & Surveillance Project at Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Jason Millar, Assistant Professor or Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, University of Ottawa
  • Vincent Mosco, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, Queens University
  • Mariette Pilon, Lawyer, Ottawa; Member of the Quebec Bar
  • David Robertson, former Director of Workplace Organization and Training for the Canadian Auto Workers
  • Renee Sieber, Associate Professor of Geography, McGill University
  • James L. Turk, Director, Centre for Free Expression
  • Mariana Valverde, Professor at the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto

The panel’s work is guided by the view that connected communities should be characterized by democratic decision-making, democratic data governance, civic engagement, social justice, and protections of human rights as spelled out in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Panel’s initial projects include:

  • Establishing a Speaker’s Bureau on connected communities/smart cities issues
  • Creating a registry of experts to provide advice to communities in relation to smart cities/connected community issues (e.g., facial recognition, privacy, urban development proposals, civil liberties, data governance, democratic control, digital technology guidelines)
  • Preparing a public report on lessons to be learned from the Sidewalk Labs Toronto Quayside project 
  • Developing a descriptive inventory of current connected community projects in Canada
  • Reporting on legislative and policy gaps in relation to connected community/smart cities projects

For more information, contact:

James L. Turk, CFE Director
(613) 277-0488 (mobile)