Book Forum on Smart Cities in Canada: Digital Dreams, Corporate Designs (Valverde & Flynn eds., 2020) [2021 C4eJ 9]

Book Forum on Smart Cities in Canada: Digital Dreams, Corporate Designs (Mariana Valverde & Alexandra Flynn eds., 2020)

Mariana Valverde
Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies
University of Toronto

Alexandra Flynn
Peter A. Allard School of Law
University of British Columbia

Beth Coleman 
(Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology & Faculty of Information, University of Toronto)
Renee Sieber 
(Geography, McGill University)
David Murakami Wood 
(Sociology, Queen’s University)

Jamie Duncan
 (Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto)

“Smart cities” use surveillance, big data processing and interactive technologies to reshape urban life. Transit riders can see the bus coming on a map on their phones. Cities can measure and analyze the garbage collected from every household. Businesses can track individuals’ movements and precisely target advertisements.

Google’s failed Sidewalk Labs proposal in Toronto, which drew sharp criticism over surveillance and privacy concerns, is just one of the many smart city projects which have been proposed or are underway in Canada. Iqaluit, Edmonton, Guelph, Montreal, Toronto and other cities and towns are all grappling with how to use these technologies. Some cities have quickly partnered with digital giants like Uber, Bell and IBM. Others have kept their distance. Big tech companies are hard at work recruiting customers and shaping – sometimes making – public policy on data collection and privacy.

In this collection, experts from across the country investigate what this new approach means for the problems cities face, and expose the larger issues about urban planning and democracy raised by smart city technology.