Building Ontario’s Next-Generation Smart Cities through Data Governance: Part 2

Part 2: Towards a Smart City Data Trust

Design recommendations for a personal mobility data trust.

Cities across Ontario are introducing technologies to improve their citizens’ quality of life and unlock the potential of a digital economy. These technologies are increasing the amount of data collected and shared among private and public organizations. To maintain the privacy and security of this data, we need new data governance mechanisms that balance the interests of citizens while enabling new opportunities for economic development. ORION and Compute Ontario produced a series of reports titled “Building Ontario’s Next-Generation Smart Cities through Data Governance” to explore these mechanisms.

We continue the four-part series with a report from MaRSDD examining the data trust as a governance model for Ontario’s mobility sector.

How do we build smart cities that feature citizen-centred design as it relates to their mobility data?

Smart cities need to protect the interests of citizens living in the digital age. MaRSDD argues that a data trust is the right governance model for smart cities. A data trust steward maintains and manages how data should be used and shared. Most importantly, a data trust determines who can access information, and under what terms.

Studying personal mobility has significant public benefits, high regional need, strong market interest, unresolved privacy concerns, and a current lack of systems-level data governance practices for the responsible use of sensitive information. Governments and public-sector corporate sponsors need to invest in prototyping and testing data governance concepts. This enables Ontario to benefit from opportunities while increasing citizen engagement in the design of smart cities.


In exploring a personal mobility data trust for smart cities, the report recommends:

  • A not-for-profit corporation should govern the data trust
  • Civic participation ensures that data governance is citizen-centric
  • The data trust needs to securely manage the technical architecture, while providing authorization and access
  • The rapidly changing nature of the environment means that the data trust must be flexible

To learn more, read Part 2 of our series: Towards a Smart City Data Trust.