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Open Smart Cities in Canada

Situating Canadian Cities within an International Smart City Ecosystem

Smart cities, intelligent cities, sustainable cities, sentient cities, cities as platform, the next city, innovative cities, programmable cities, connected cities, and hackable cities are among the list of labels observed by the Open Smart Cities in Canada project’s Environmental-Scan (E-Scan) and Gap Analysis to describe data-driven and networked urbanism. These labels are created and used by a variety of actors, such as smart city vendors, consulting firms, think tanks, scholars, alliances, consortia and business associations, technology actors, civil society actors, standards development organizations (SDOs), and national/local/and regional governments. These actors that interact with the international smart city space also contribute guidelines, policies, best practices, standards, frameworks, business models, and technological solutions. Examples of these kinds of documents include the Smart Cities Council’s Smart Cities Readiness Guide or the Alberta Smart City Alliance’s smart city best practices research.

Our research on international smart city actors and their instrumentalities contextualizes the current state of smart policies and practices being applied by Cities in Canada. The Project’s E-Scans of smart city digital media and interviews with representatives at the Cities of Edmonton, Guelph, Montreal, and Ottawa provide insight into how some local governments envision, define, govern, and deploy their smart city initiative. The Project’s Cities Assessment Report will focus specifically on City applications of open and geospatial data, standards, smart city goals and principles, standards and indicators, procurement practices, and civic engagement practices at these four Cities.

Some initial findings of our assessment are:

  1. Collaborating Cities are at different stages in developing their smart city initiatives, yet all of them utilize smart projects or components

  2. Each City is unique in how they govern and operationalize their smart city initiatives

  3. Cities consider open and geospatial data as a key part to becoming a smart city. The Project’s collaborating Cities implement location-based services, geo-visualizations in maps, and GPS technologies; geocode their data; and consider standards to make geospatial data more interoperable and accessible within and outside government.

  4. There appears to exist a gap between existing SDO smart city standards and their adoption by Cities

Observed policies and practices presented in the Cities Assessment Report will be related to international smart city best practices at the cities of Chicago, Dublin, New York City, and Helsinki. These cities were chosen because they are widely recognized for their innovative geospatial and open data policies and practices.

The Project’s team is excited to share more about the Project’s preliminary findings at the Project’s first webinar, entitled Open Smart Cities in Canada Webinar 1: Situating Canadian Cities in the Smart City International Ecosystem, on August 30 at 12:30 pm (EST). You can register for the webinar at

The Open Smart Cities in Canada project is conducted by a core team of researchers and experts from OpenNorth, Prof. Tracey Lauriault (Carleton University)Prof. Mark S. Fox (University of Toronto), and M. David Fewer (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)

For more information about OpenNorth’s Open Smart Cities in Canada project funded by NRCan’s GeoConnections program, please check out the Project’s first blog post at or contact Rachel Bloom at

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