July 17, 2019

Open Smart Cities in Canada: Environmental Scan and Case Studies

Open North

On the way to open, ethical, and values-based smart cities - how to use open smart city concepts to drive policy, standards and global best practices in Canada.

This executive summary consolidates findings from a smart city environmental scan and five case studies of smart city initiatives in Canada. The E-Scan entailed compiling and reviewing documents and definitions produced by smart city vendors, think tanks, associations, consulting firms, standards organizations, conferences, civil society organizations, including critical academic literature, government reports, marketing material, specifications and requirements documents. This research was motivated by a desire to identify international shapers of smart cities and to better understand what differentiates a smart city from an Open Smart City.

The Smart city E-Scan and case studies have compiled and drawn attention to a fledgling Canadian smart cities ecosystem with many Smart City Shapers. Vendors, consultants, think tanks, conferences, standards organizations, local governments, civil society, and citizens (to name a few), are all contributing to the smart city discussion in Canada and beyond, and are shaping the general direction that Canadian cities are taking as they begin, or continue to make, the transition to smart cities. This report finds that smart cities differ not only due to the context of where they are being operationalized, but also according to which Smart City Shapers are engaged in building them.

Smart cities are a work in progress, evolving with or without common understandings of what a smart city is. They continue to evolve in the absence of a shared framework for the implementation of smart city initiatives and with ad-hoc adherence to principles of openness. Concurrently, the many ways cities and the province understand and implement ‘smartness’ is also the result of differing historical, economic, legal, political, social, cultural, geographic and institutional contexts.

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