Smart City Digital Governance – Lunch Talk with Ellen P. Goodman

O P E N    B R O W N – B A G   L U N C H

Smart City Digital Governance –
Lunch Talk with Ellen P. Goodman
Wednesday, 04 December 2019 | 1 pm | HIIG


Cities around the world are rapidly adopting digital technologies, data analytics, and the trappings of “smart” infrastructure.  These innovations are touted as solutions to help rationalize services and address rising urban challenges in housing, transit, energy, law enforcement, health care, waste management, and population flow.  Promises of urban innovation unite cities’ need for help with technology firms’ need for markets. As cities and other public entities embark on partnerships with technology firms, they need to manage risks of privatization (e.g., governance and services), domination (e.g., individual and collective loss of control over data and optionality), and platformisation (e.g., turning all activity into platform-mediated market exchanges).

Sidewalk Labs, a Google affiliate, has been working on a smart city implementation on the Toronto Waterfront. While details are still evolving, the plan is for a new kind of data-driven urban environment; “the world’s first neighborhood built from the internet up.” Since 2017, the company has worked with public authorities on developing a city-within-a-city featuring state-of-the-art sustainable architecture, autonomous vehicles, sensor-based surveillance, and data-driven “responsive” services. The Sidewalk Toronto project shows how technology and technocratic visions can outpace public governance, how lack of transparency can erode public trust, and how the public can push back. Governance issues to be worked out include: the use of algorithmic impact statements, the evolving concept of “digital restraint,”  procurement, and data control.

Ellen P. Goodman, is a Professor at Rutgers Law School and Co-Director of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law. Her research interests include smart cities, algorithmic governance, freedom of expression, platform policies, communications architectures, media and advertising law, and transparency policy.


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Event date

4 Dec 2019 | 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm ical | gcal



Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society,  Französische Straße 9,  10117 Berlin


Christian Grauvogel

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