In 2019–20, the fifteenth cohort of the Interdisciplinary Design Strategy program at the Institute without Boundaries (IwB), George Brown College in Toronto, embarked on a nine-month-long project to explore how Smart Cities can be designed to be ethical, sustainable and inclusive. The Ethical Smart City Project is the labour of a year’s dedication to researching, visualizing, and developing an Ethical Smart City (ESC) Framework.
To accomplish this task, we carried out extensive research to understand the relationships and interconnections within Smart Cities in Canada and around the world and used human-centred design to derive valuable insights. This exploration helped us break down the concept of Ethical Smart Cities into a series of tangible outcomes. We define an Ethical Smart City as one that has at its centre engaged, thriving, and diverse communities. The values of the communities guide Ethical Smart Cities to identify their challenges. By identifying systemic challenges and considering these values, Ethical Smart Cities can use appropriate technology to create ethical, sustainable, and inclusive solutions.
The ESC Project produced a Framework that puts the community at the centre and guides municipalities on their journey from Cities to Ethical Smart Cities. The five-step process of the ESC Framework resulted from applying design thinking to the needs and processes at the municipal level. A lot of the inspiration came from a mix of primary research insights from the interviews and the envisioned experience of transformation for municipalities.
To provide practical steps to transform Cities into Ethical Smart Cities the Framework is broken down into five-steps and supported by user-friendly tools – all of which can be accessed on this website. All five steps are complemented by precedents of smart cities around the world solving their challenges in an ethical manner.
Through this year, the following touchpoints were critical in the evolution of this project:
We hope that municipalities around the world use the ESC Framework when addressing the needs of their communities and that the experience bridges the gap between how cities are planned and how they are experienced by the communities within them.
We would love to hear from you on your experience with the ESC Framework and any questions or feedback you may have. Please fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you.