“People Centered Vision” Instead of Privacy Invasive and Significantly Risky “Smart City” for Toronto

By B.N. Frank

Opposition to “Smart Cities” continues to increase due to various concerns – cybersecurity, economic, privacy, safety, health and environmental (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Last year Toronto abandoned its plans to become a “Smart City” and has recently announced its new vision.

From The Guardian:

Toronto swaps Google-backed, not-so-smart city plans for people-centred vision

A year after ditching a Google tie-up to create a tech-heavy waterside development, Canada’s largest city is stressing affordability and sustainability

When a Google-backed company first considered 12 acres of industrial land along Toronto’s waterfront, it saw a blank slate that would let it design a hi-tech, futuristic city.

Algorithms would ease congestion on heated roads. Autonomous vehicles would shuttle residents past towering wooden skyscrapers. And by closely studying millions of residents, computers could learn how to make the city more livable.

Sidewalk Labs pledged to make Toronto one of the world’s first “smart” cities. But skeptics saw a darker side, which included thousands of cameras monitoring streets, storefronts and parks, and harvesting data on the smallest movements.

Now, Canada’s largest city is moving towards a new vision of the future, in which affordability, sustainability and environmentally friendly design are prioritized over the trappings of new and often untested technologies.

In announcing its new vision this week for Quayside, Toronto has backed away from many of the previous plan’s most futuristic promises, a move experts say reflects growing skepticism over technology’s role in urban planning decisions.

“Quayside will usher in a new chapter in Toronto development. It will remind people of everything they want from living in the city and demonstrate what is possible when vision, passion and design excellence are brought together,” Waterfront Toronto said in a statement.

The call for new development proposals comes nearly a year after the city and Google-affiliated Sidewalk Labs parted ways – a stinging defeat for a project championed by the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and Eric Schmidt of Google, who had promised a community built “from the internet up”.

Before the partnership was called off, the project had come under sharp criticism, amid questions over privacy and fears of “surveillance capitalism”.

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