Technology has collided with democracy in Canada.
The Quayside project in Toronto has revealed the most important issue when doing smart city work at scale to be: who will build, set the rules and ultimately govern the underlying technology architecture?
This digital public infrastructure (DPI) is where we will embed the answers to critical public policy questions on data governance, value capture, privacy, and the line between public and private in our future cities.
The risk is that this critical infrastructure will be built and controlled by private interests, leading to a slow erosion of the ability of our cities to govern the public domain.
All Canadian cities will eventually need to confront this issue, but Quayside has revealed a gap: there’s no organization with the mandate, funding or coalition working to build DPI collaboratively at the scale required for cities across Canada.
The Open City Network is a not for profit founded in Spring 2019 to work with and on behalf of cities to build DPI (smart city architecture, standards and exchange protocols) as critical public infrastructure, with strong public governance.
Our members make up a working coalition across the public, private and NGO sectors. For cities in particular, the OCN aims to be a window into complex issues at the intersection of tech, cities and democracy, which affect all cities but which none can solve alone.
Digital public infrastructure will protect democratic institutions, modernize government at scale and nurture a vibrant Canadian technology ecosystem.
We also advocate for:
- Open architecture as the foundation of DPI;
- The public sector to protect the value of public data;
- New regulations for smart city technologies;
- Sustained investments in the digital and cultural modernization of our city institutions.