To build the smartest city, we must collaborate to ensure it works for all

Toronto’s burgeoning tech sector continues to go from strength to strength. While our entrepreneurs are smart, fierce, global competitors, they also believe in raising all boats. Inclusive innovation is the key to solving some of our biggest challenges, such as affordable housing, climate change, income disparities and better transit.

MaRS is looking forward to reviewing Sidewalk Labs Master Innovation & Development Plan for the Quayside site now that it is being shared with the public. The hope is that this project will lead us toward a green, digital city of the future.

Torontonians deeply care about that future, and we know that in the coming weeks many will be reading, analyzing and debating the plan. Questions have been raised about data privacy and security and how it hopes to profit, and how it would leverage digital-first development to address critical urban challenges.

Over the next few months, we expect productive discussions and engagement to address these questions and we hope to work with Waterfront Toronto, the City of Toronto and Sidewalk to help them navigate some of these issues and emerge with constructive solutions.

We all share the goal of creating a city that serves all of its residents by leveraging technology to support our urban communities while providing better social and economic benefits for all.

This is an ambitious plan that takes Toronto into uncharted territory in urban innovation. There is still much work to be done to safeguard and advance the data rights of residents. To ensure that the public interest is well served, we believe that an independent urban data trust must be established. Key will be correctly designing the legal structure, business model, technical architecture, and civic participation mechanism of the trust to ensure it works for all Torontonians.

This is the start of a bold urban experiment. We are excited to see how it unfolds.