Video | 2022

Data Dilemmas: Municipalities and Smart-City Technology

Advances in the ability to collect and analyse data related to municipal infrastructure create both opportunities and challenges for local governments across Canada. While smart city technology can help cities deliver services more effectively, it also exposes potential vulnerabilities in current governance processes and raises questions about relationships with the private sector in terms of how data are generated, collected, and stored. Meanwhile, as municipalities weigh these challenging ethical and policy questions, the introduction of data-infused public infrastructure has not slowed.On February 16, 2022, a panel of academics and practitioners examined the growing smart city industry and the advancement of data-intensive public infrastructure in Canada. How does smart city technology affect procurement or the financing of data-intensive public infrastructure? Are local governance functions threatened? What do policy-makers need to know about data governance? Do municipal policy-makers have the tools they need to balance public finance and public interest?


Merlin Chatwin is the Executive Director of Open North, a non-for-profit specializing in open data and open government, community engagement, and open smart cities. He received his PhD from the University of Western Ontario in the Geography Department. His research area is urban policy and local governance with a specific focus on inclusive civic participation in distinct geographies. Merlin has over 10 years of domestic and international experience focusing on public consultation, policy development and local government reform. He has significant experience in developing strategic alliances in governance, education and food security sectors. Merlin has expertise in leading cross-sectoral groups through strategic planning and collaborative processes.

Cyrus Tehrani is the City of Hamilton’s Chief Digital Officer and Director of Information. His portfolio includes Smart & Connected Communities, Open Data, Digital & Innovation, Strategic Partnerships, Corporate Initiatives and Hamilton’s CityLAB program. Cyrus has over 20 years of experience in senior leadership roles in IT, digital solutions and transformation, quality assurance, process improvement and project management in the health care, manufacturing and education sectors. Cyrus has a keen interest in digital social equity and all things technology-related. He is also a member of the United Way Halton Hamilton Cabinet, YMCA Community Connections Newcomer Mentor and chairs the Public Safety Innovation Alliance Canadian Smart Cities Community of Practice.

Natasha Tusikov is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Science at York University. Her research examines the intersection among law, crime, technology, and regulation. She is the author of Chokepoints: Global Private Regulation on the Internet, and co-editor of Information, Technology and Control in a Changing World: Understanding Power Structures in the 21st Century, and Power and Authority in Internet Governance Return of the State? She has also published in the areas of internet governance, the Internet of Things, smart cities and data governance, and regulating hate speech on social media. Prior to her academic work, Natasha was an intelligence analyst with RCMP in Ottawa.


Zachary Spicer is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at York University in Toronto, Canada. He previously served as the Director of Research and Outreach with the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC). He began his career as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Brock University and completed post-doctoral fellowships at the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy at Wilfrid Laurier University and at IMFG after earning his PhD from the Department of Political Science at The University of Western Ontario. His research centres on Canadian local government and innovation policy.

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