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Are you taking on the Smart Cities Challenge?

May 9, 2018

Embed Personal Information Protection and Security, Canada’s Privacy Commissioners urge

The innovation and ingenuity of smart technologies offers plenty of opportunities for municipalities to more effectively deliver public services. There are, however, privacy and security risks that must be considered, cautions Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton and her Canadian colleagues.

In response to Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge, Canada’s Privacy Commissioners wrote to the Hon. Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, to take steps to ensure that privacy and security of personal information are specifically considered in the selection, design and implementation of winning proposals.

The Smart Cities Challenge has motivated municipalities to develop proposals for “innovative solutions to their most pressing challenges using data and connected technologies.” Four prizes totalling up to $75 million will be given to the winning municipalities or indigenous communities. A 13-person jury, including former AUMA President Lisa Holmes, will select the 20 finalists and four winning communities.

Public trust is vital for any smart city initiative. Ensuring citizens are informed about the initiative and what their access to information and privacy rights are in relation to it will often drive a project’s success.

To help build trust, Privacy Commissioners offered guidance on privacy and security controls needed to help mitigate risks in smart city initiatives.

The six mitigating measures include: data minimization, de-identification of personal information, implementing a data governance and privacy management program, completing privacy impact and threat risk assessments, committing to community engagement and project transparency, and providing individuals with consent where feasible.

Commissioner Clayton is offering participating municipalities to contact Scott Sibbald, Communications Manager, at to see what assistance may be offered as the process unfolds.