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Many were excited when Sidewalk Labs (the urban innovation branch of Google’s Alphabet) won a competition to develop Toronto’s Quayside neighbourhood, promising to integrate data and urban design.

Yet, the project has proved controversial for many reasons, not least of which are questions surrounding data collection and use.

According to Policy Options, “The controversy around Sidewalk Toronto’s waterfront proposals is raising important questions around the values embedded in our urban AI systems.” Community members have raised concerns about privacy, affordable housing and diversity.

As Canada’s communities become “smarter,” data analysts and community planners will have to increasingly grapple with these concerns. For an informative introduction to the topic, check out the article “Values-based AI and the new smart cities.”