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GCI hosts roundtable on Toronto’s Smart City development

Updated: May 11, 2018



At the invitation of Michael Kolm, Chief Transformation Officer at the City of Toronto, the Global Cities Institute hosted a Smart Cities Challenge roundtable on January 24.


The roundtable focused on the development of Toronto’s application in the Federal Smart Cities Challenge, based on a vision for Toronto as a smart city and how smart city solutions built in Toronto can travel to other cities and communities across Canada and worldwide.


Members from the Global Cities Institute emphasized the importance of standardized data for guiding Toronto’s development as a Smart City. Central to this vision for Toronto as a smart city was leveraging data and emerging technologies not only to improve efficiency in city services and infrastructure, but to bring about equitable outcomes in improving quality of life for all Toronto residents.


Announced in November 2017 by Infrastructure Canada, the Smart Cities Challenge is a competition open to all municipalities, local or regional governments and Indigenous communities to encourage communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology.


In putting together Toronto’s application for the Federal Smart Cities Challenge, reliable data was essential to show which areas require investment to become “smarter” and which areas already provide a foundation for a Smart Toronto. Indicators from ISO 37120, the world’s first standard on city data, whose creation was spearheaded by the GCI, were able to answer questions like:

  • How green is Toronto’s energy? (percentage of total energy derived from renewable sources)

  • How innovative is Toronto? (Number of higher education degrees per 100,000 population and number of patents per 100,000 population per year)

  • How does Toronto deal with waste? (percentage of waste recycled or disposed of in landfills, incinerators or by other means)

  • How transportation friendly is Toronto? (modal split, kilometres of high capacity public transit, light passenger public transit, or bike paths per 100,000 population)


Thanks to the City of Toronto’s efforts to adopt ISO 37120 as of 2014, the GCI was able to inform Toronto’s approach to the Smart Cities Challenge with standardized data on nearly 100 indicators from 17 themes on city services and quality of life.


Building on ISO 37120, the Global Cities Institute is currently leading the development of two new standards: ISO 37122 - Indicators for Smart Cities and ISO 37123 - Indicators for Resilient Cities. Cities worldwide are supporting the construction of these two new international standards, and testing and piloting these indicators in accordance with the purpose of the standard to be a tool built by cities, for cities.


The new Smart Cities standard will measure the key elements of a smart city envisioned through this process, including themes such as smart connected infrastructure, smart environment, smart economy, smart government, smart living and smart mobility. These themes reflect a vision of a smart city as one that is continually improving its ability to provide sustainable and inclusive social, economic and environmental outcomes.


The Toronto Smart Cities Challenge roundtable is one of many conversations happening worldwide on how cities are driving transformational change towards a sustainable future for the planet. Together, ISO 37120, ISO 37122, and ISO 37123 provide a “family of standards” to guide cities across the world as they drive this change and become sustainable, smart, resilient cities.

Participants at the Smart Cities Challenge roundtable included:

  • Michael Kolm - Chief Transformation Officer, City of Toronto

  • Angie Camara - Management Consultant, Chief Transformation Office, City of Toronto

  • Art Eggleton – Senator, Senate of Canada and Chair, WCCD Global City Leaders Advisory Board, former Mayor of Toronto, former Minister: International Trade; National Defence; Infrastructure; and former President of the Treasury Board

  • Wayne Barwise – Executive Vice President, Cadillac Fairview Corporation

  • John Godfrey – Special Advisor for Climate Change & Chair, Climate Action Group - Office of the Premier, Government of Ontario, and Former Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities

  • Toby Lennox – CEO, Toronto Global

  • Joe Pennachetti – WCCD Executive Advisor, Global City Strategy, former Toronto City Manager

  • Richard Sommer – Dean, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design

  • Matthew Lynch – WCCD, Vice President Global Partnerships and Initiative

  • James Patava – WCCD, Vice President Public Affairs and International Relations

  • Nicholas Bakewell – WCCD, Data Analyst

  • Iain Stewart – Post Doctoral Fellow, Global Cities Institute, University of Toronto

  • Richard Stren – Senior Fellow, Global Cities Institute and Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

  • Patricia McCarney – President and CEO, WCCD and Director and Professor, Global Cities Institute