This blog post is written by Dr. Michael Geist, Chair of Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory Panel, and outlines the panel’s supplementary report. You can read Waterfront Toronto’s response to the panel’s report here.
POSTED: FEBRUARY 26, 2020 I INNOVATION, TECHNOLOGY
By: Dr. Michael Geist
My name is Michael Geist, and I am the Chair of Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory Panel (DSAP). Today, the DSAP released its Supplemental Report on Sidewalk Labs’ Digital Innovation Appendix (DIA). This follows our September 2019 Preliminary Commentary on the Sidewalk Labs Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP); for additional background on that report – and on the DSAP – see my earlier blog post.
Since the DSAP’s first report, additional information about the project has been provided – including Sidewalk Labs’ Digital Innovation Appendix (DIA), responses by both Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs (Nov. 7, 2019 DSAP Meeting Book, p. 79 and 105 respectively) to the specific questions and concerns raised in the Preliminary Commentary, and the Threshold Issues Resolution letter. The current Report is intended to identify areas in which this additional information has addressed (in whole or in part) the issues raised in the Panel’s initial commentary, and the areas in which questions and concerns remain.
As with the Preliminary Commentary, this report is not intended to represent the position of the DSAP as a whole; rather, it is a summary of comments made by individual Panelists. As well, it is (by necessity) partial – the absence of comment on any element of the project does not imply either endorsement or criticism of that item.
Overall, the Report focuses on DSAP Panelists’ belief that it will be critical for all parties associated with this project to “show their work” to support a full review by the Panel. For Waterfront Toronto, this means being clear about the digital governance framework that will apply to this project, and providing insight about the findings of its evaluation (both with respect to the anticipated effectiveness of the proposed solutions, and to any considerations associated with Sidewalk Labs as a partner). For Sidewalk Labs, this means providing additional context for their digital proposals, including but not limited to an explanation of why digital approaches to solutions were chosen over non-digital ones (to support claims of “digital restraint”), how the effectiveness of proposed systems and initiatives will be measured, and how any potential negative impacts against marginalized or vulnerable groups will be identified and addressed.
This review is based on a point in time – the Panel recognizes that some of the digital proposals may further evolve, and some may be removed entirely. The DSAP looks forward to continuing to provide advice to Waterfront Toronto on the Innovation Plan for Quayside as it is developed and released, as well as (should the project proceed to this point) on any implementation agreements which may relate to the Panel’s mandate. The Panel also looks forward with anticipation to working with Waterfront Toronto on the development of its Intelligent Community Guidelines.
Once again, I thank all Panelists for their efforts, and in particular the Report Writing Working Group (Charles Finley, Andrew Clement, Karen Gomez, and Mark Wilson) for creating the summary of the group’s comments.