ITWC is proud to present a report on Technicity 2016. This year we had Mayor Tory in attendance and we discussed facing the digital future of our city.

Digital transformation vital for the future of Canada’s cities, Toronto mayor tells Technicity

Eric Emin Wood Eric Emin Wood Published: 12/08/2016

TORONTO – Creating a digital working group was just the beginning.

If Toronto – and other Canadian cities, including Calgary and Vancouver, both of which joined Ontario’s capital on this year’s list of the world’s most liveable cities, according to the Economist – wants to thrive in the 21st century, it needs to embrace digital transformation, Mayor John Tory told a crowd made up of city staff and tech industry veterans at Technicity, a Dec. 7 event co-sponsored by IT World Canada.

“Any notion we have that government can afford to be business as usual… any notion that we have that the economy is going to be business as usual… is not a viable or responsible approach to take,” Tory said. “Doing things the old way is just not viable anymore in terms of the cost of using technology versus the cost of not.”

During a separate presentation, Toronto chief corporate officer Josie Scioli mentioned that calling the city’s 311 service costs taxpayers about $18 per transaction, while the same transaction through its 311 website is just $2, but Tory wasn’t simply counting dollars and cents: while praising the city’s financial services and life sciences industries for embracing disruptive technologies, he encouraged the audience to imagine what could happen if they did not.

“If Toronto doesn’t establish itself as a home for all of the disruptors who are going to upset those industries and change them, they will be changed from the outside,” he said. “There will be firms that will be successful at selling applications around the world to transform financial services whether they’re Toronto-based or not.”

Fortunately, he emphasized, neither industry is facing that problem because – partly thanks to government support – they have made the leap. Now it’s up to other industries – and cities, including Toronto – to join them.

“We’re not doing as well as we need to,” Tory admitted, though he gave his speech a day after appointing councillor Michelle Holland as Toronto’s official Advocate for the Innovation Economy.

“People sometimes think that… embracing technology as the future of Toronto’s economy means looking at future incremental opportunity – but in fact it goes way beyond that,” Tory said. “Instead of being bystanders, we have to be leaders.”

Lessons learned from Rogers

As an example of the type of leadership he aspired to, Tory told a story about his former boss, Rogers Communications Inc. founder Ted Rogers Jr., whom he revealed had poor eyesight.

“His eyesight was so poor he couldn’t drive a car, and as a result he also couldn’t use a computer… because at the time there wasn’t technology that would have made it possible,” Tory. “But he nonetheless… was a great visionary of what was going to happen with technology.”

Rogers, Tory said, had a knack for predicting technological upheavals years or even decades before they happened, and often encountered resistance among his executive team – including Tory, who served as president and CEO of the company’s Rogers Media division between 1995 and 1999 – as a result.

“As his team, we were naturally inclined to say – and I was among the ones first and foremost who would be saying this – ‘you probably shouldn’t venture in that direction,'” Tory said. “‘It’s too risky, we’re going to upset the core business.'”

“The IT department of Rogers was a favourite one for saying that,” he continued. “‘You can’t do that, because the following 11 other things will be disrupted.'”

“But he pushed us to do it, and sometimes it caused chaos, as those of you who have been Rogers customers will know, because… half the time it was the introduction of some new product that wasn’t ready for primetime,” Tory said.

But, he pointed out, Rogers was ultimately right – there’s a reason the company is now the largest mobile service provider in Canada.

Case study: Improving Toronto’s program registration platform

For an example of the goodwill a single well-executed digital transformation project can generate, Tory shared how the city went about improving its famously atrocious program registration system.

And that’s Tory’s word, not ours: “It was this atrocious combination – and I say this not with any criticism of our staff, because quite frankly… political people failed to make the investment in keeping this system up to date,” he said, describing a system that involved “people lining up… trying to get through on the phone… trying to get through online… and last but not least people who showed up to fill out pieces of paper on clipboards.”

The result, as Tory admitted and the Toronto Star was fond of pointing out, was a system that left countless parents frustrated, and Tory, who as recently as March told the Star the city’s registration infrastructure was being held together with “chewing gum and chicken wire,” vowed to do something about it.

“It’s 2015 and we were keeping waiting lists on paper,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, the city’s IT staff said that nobody had been given the green light to invest in new infrastructure, Tory said, and while plans to do so were finally set in motion, in the meantime it was decided that city staff should strive to fix its current system to the best of its ability, recruiting startup veterans and even representatives from OCAD University to redesign the registration platform’s website, increase its server capacity, inform residents exactly what they needed to do to register, and divide a one-day process in half, which reduced the number of registrants logging in at one time.

The result? This week, 81 per cent of residents signing up reported that the system had been greatly improved, Tory said, while the platform itself completed 26 per cent more registrations during the first hour than last year.

“We’re still running at only a modest pace on the actual procurement of the new system,” Tory admitted. “And that’s partly because what’s available out there doesn’t necessarily meet our needs, which is always problematic… but we’re moving ahead.”

Meanwhile, the improvements the city has made to the old platform has resulted in people people telling Tory and other city staff something they almost never hear: Praise.

“To me… the decision to move forward with a new system, the decision to improve the old system pending procurement, and the execution of the improvements, is a model of how we have to do business at city hall, and show ourselves to be leaders,” Tory said.

International reputation at stake

Finally, for a simple illustration of what the city has to gain by embracing digital transformation, Tory shared an anecdote from his visit to Israel, which has become a world leader in the technology and life sciences industries, with members of Toronto’s tech sector last month.

“The pitch we were making is for all these companies, which of course only have a market of 8.5 million in Israel, if they want to have access to the North American market, with 300-plus million people, they should come here,” Tory said. “And they said to us that when it comes to technology companies, ‘we consider New York to be an option to establish a North American presence, and we consider Silicon Valley to be an option.”

“We know Toronto exists,” he continued. “We know it’s a big city and has very friendly connections with Israel and the Jewish community… but we just don’t think about it.”

“And that’s our fault,” Tory said. “Because we haven’t gone to them and said, ‘The talent pool we have here is magnificent. We have an infrastructure here of institutions, governments, and companies that will be a test bed, and there are people here doing exciting things who can work with you as partners.'”

The message

Without digital ambassadors, in both the city and its private sector, Tory said, opportunities like Israel will continue to elude Toronto’s grasp.

“If I have a message for you today, it’s this… Please help me by making sure that we move ahead with this as rapidly as possible,” he said. “Don’t let bureaucratic inertia, or ‘we’ve always done it this way,’ or ‘it’ll wreck the system’ stand in the way of moving forward.”

Backstage with Toronto Mayor John Tory [Technicity]

Brian Jackson Brian Jackson Published: 12/14/2016

ITWC partnered with the City of Toronto to co-host Technicity on Dec. 7, 2016. The day brought together leadership within the organization of the city, Toronto’s technology leaders, and influencers from elsewhere to discuss both the opportunity and the challenges brought by the Internet of Things to municipalities. We’ll be featuring a series of interviews we conducted that day on

After delivering a speech about the City of Toronto’s efforts to transform itself into a tech-driven “smart city,” Mayor John Tory took a moment to chat with ITWC editorial director Brian Jackson about how his own city is progressing in its digital transformation, in addition to highlighting other examples that we can learn from around the world.

Integrating tech into city infrastructure poses challenges, Toronto execs tell Technicity

Mandy Kovacs Mandy Kovacs Published: 12/08/2016

Technology can offer municipal governments a multitude of opportunities to improve city services, but expectations around integrating it into existing infrastructure on current budgets poses numerous challenges.

Speaking at Technicity on Dec. 7 in Toronto, Michael Williams, general manager of economic development and culture at the City of Toronto, said that the biggest hurdle to overcome in regards to implementing technology in the public sector are finances – or lack thereof.

“Last year, [Toronto] had a $12 billion budget, and we spent $36 million on transformation – that’s clearly not enough money to make all the technological changes we want to do and it won’t help us get very far,” he explained during a panel titled “Wicked Challenges and Opportunities.”

“The public sector municipal government needs to balance the budget every year, and that slows down change,” he said. “In the private sector, as long as you could find cash somewhere, you could make the changes however fast you wanted. A city can’t do that.”

Also speaking on the panel, Rob Meikle, the City of Toronto’s CIO, added that execution from a fiscal and investment standpoint is a challenge. As a result, he said, the city needs to make hard decisions on prioritizing what technological investments it can actually afford to implement every year.

He noted that another rising problem is the gap between expectations and reality, which has continued to grow “as citizens, businesses, and even governments demand shorter timeframes for improvement.”

“The reality is that the appetite [for technological improvements] is greater than funding will permit. This expectation is a challenge. We go through all our tech investments and know we can’t do it all,” he told an audience made up of city staff and tech industry veterans.

City working to be more responsive, foster new talent

Beyond the fiscal challenges, Meikle said that Toronto’s municipal government is working on modernizing policies so that the city can be more responsive to change: one recent example is appointing a city councillor as Advocate for the Innovation Economy, a new position that will explore opportunities for the city to incorporate tech into its day-to-day operations.

The position is only one step towards aligning city services with the excellence businesses and citizens are demanding, but remains a “strong signal” that digital transformation is a priority for the mayor and city council, Meikle told the crowd.

Making sure the city has the physical infrastructure to leap over digital divides and support advanced technological changes, such as ensuring all areas of the city have proper internet, for example, is also key, Williams added.

Another important step Williams described is ensuring Toronto and its mayor continue to promote the region’s technology elsewhere. Williams stressed that it is fundamental for a city to bring in new dollars in from outside the southern Ontario region, and that he would like to see more global trips from Mayor John Tory, such as his visit to Israel in November, to foster the city and its talent, resources and businesses.

“Toronto is doing much better than people realize in terms of technological infrastructure and companies that provide those services,” he argued. “But it’s also important to also look outside the city for new investment, so we need to make sure the mayor and his colleagues continue to encourage Toronto and Canada-based tech.”

However, moderator Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada, brought up the fact that there is an ongoing technical skills shortage in Canada, and both panelists agreed it was a matter that needs to be dealt with quickly.

“Talent management is a priority for me,” Meikle stated, adding that the topic is on every single one of his biweekly leadership meeting agendas. He pointed to several reasons why Canada is undergoing such a shortage, the top one being the fact that talent is needed by both the public and private sectors, meaning they are competing for talent within the same small pool.

Meikle told the crowd that he thinks the public sector needs to do a better job at attracting talent, and pointed to the city’s partnerships with local schools as an example. Starting young and finding people with the common drive of wanting to make a difference within their own city is key, he said.

However, more important than talent is the ability to collaborate and work as a team.

“We operate under the principle that success is a byproduct of a high performing team and we focus a lot on finding people that are the right fit. It’s a competitive landscape, yes, but collaborative attitudes and behaviours still come first, and technical skills second. Since we exist in such a political web, attracting the right people for the right reasons is important,” Meikle said.

Two sides of technology

But despite all the benefits of technology, Williams pointed out that it can bring about negative aspects as well, such as job loss as a result of automation.

“All the technologies from the last 20 years have created new industries and net worth,” he said. “People predicted everything was going to be taken over by technology, that we’d have extra time for more leisurely activities, all that stuff.”

“That didn’t happen, but we’re entering a time where there’s a serious probability that the technologies being created today will leave significant groups of people unemployed,” he continued.

Williams used self-driving cars as an example, saying that since they are touted as being safer than traditional human-driven vehicles, fewer accidents could lead to fewer insurance agents. Self-driving transport trucks mean fewer truck drivers, he added, and more financial technologies could mean less bankers.

“Technology can make our lives much easier and efficient, and save time and money, but it can also lead to job loss,” he said.

“We need to figure out how to manage that quickly because it’s important. A government needs to look at both sides of the impact it can have,” Williams concluded.

4 ways cities can avoid potholes and sinkholes on the road to digital transformation

Eric Emin Wood Eric Emin Wood Published: 12/13/2016

If Canada’s urban centres want to become leaders in digital transformation, they need to agree on a set of data standards, according to a leading University of Toronto engineer, while making a concerted effort to identify both new and existing challenges along the way.

Giving the keynote address at Technicity, a Dec. 7 event co-sponsored by IT World Canada, U of T urban systems engineering professor Mark Fox discussed with both tech industry veterans and City of Toronto staff how they could best use big data and other types of analytics to digitally transform their city.

“I attend meetings, give talks, et cetera, around the world, and I always hear various people talk about the virtues of the digital transformation of cities,” Fox told the audience. “But they tend to provide a very rosy picture of where we are heading, and tend to gloss over some of the difficult pieces of what that transformation entails.”

“Cities are not rocket science,” he told the crowd. “They are a thousand times more complicated than rocket science.”

In science, he said, the goal is to reduce complexity through design, while cities contain so many elements – education, public safety, water and sewage, recreation – that although each needs to be considered, it’s impossible to fully incorporate them all.

During his presentation Fox called the challenges facing digital transformation “potholes” and “sinkholes”: the former, he said, are problems that can be fixed easily enough, while the latter require completely rethinking how the infrastructure is created in the first place.

Asked for examples, Fox told that data sparseness – recognition that the data collected is only a small part of what’s needed – is a pothole, while data standards – “coming up with attributes and values that are inter-operable not only within a city, but across cities” – represent a sinkhole.

In theory, planners know the causes behind data sparseness and how to correct them – for example, the existing data collected by many City of Toronto departments often remains with whatever department conducted the research in the first place and becomes inaccessible to everyone else, the result not of privacy concerns but lack of planning.

“The reality is the data that we collect is only a very small subset of what we need, and I don’t know to what extent when we start anything we really ask the question: What do we need?” Fox said during the presentation.

A similar lack of planning led Ontario mass transit authority Metrolinx to neglect the opportunity to use its recently-installed Presto machines to collect exit data, he noted.

The problems caused by these potholes can often go back years, he said – for example, Toronto first announced that it would begin collecting traffic sensor data after installing the first automated traffic lights in 1967 – and has made none of it readily available since.

But even the oldest pothole pales in comparison to the inherent problems behind what Fox called called “behavioural characteristics” – the systems that city planners build to actually collect and deliver data.

“Digital transformation is difficult,” he told “There are a number of problems that we have to overcome… beginning with the data itself, and ending with our overall expectations of the behaviours those systems are able to display – and I’m really concerned with those behavioural characteristics in the long run.”

For example, during his presentation Fox showed the audience three official maps of Toronto that government officials use for data collection purposes – the city’s neighbourhood map, followed by the Toronto Police Service’s district map, followed by the federal government’s census division map – none of which shared any boundaries, and therefore measurable data.

Now imagine trying to share the data collected between multiple cities, Fox said, emphasizing again that inter-operability is impossible without data standards.

And so, for the second half of his presentation Fox laid out four behavioural guidelines that researchers should keep in mind when establishing standards for digital transformation.

Guideline #1: Awareness

Simply collecting and releasing data is not a worthy goal in and of itself, Fox said: there needs to be a reason for choosing which data to collect and release. Making those choices requires awareness – knowing what to expect from a given data point, its limits, whether deviations are significant, and which actions to take when deviations occur.

Guideline #2: Responsiveness

Digital transformation standards require responsiveness, Fox said: Being able to flexibly respond to events with a focus on outcomes and not the methods behind them.

In particular, he said, programmers and researchers should ask themselves the extent to which a given response incorporates:

  1. Situational Understanding, ensuring all relevant information is available;
  2. Shared Knowledge – that is, access to prior experiences;
  3. Flexibility, incorporating versatile responses to multiple situations;
  4. Empowerment, both for the system and the people behind it;
  5. Teleology, by replacing a set process with tangible goals.

Guideline #3: Introspection

This guideline encourages digital transformers to examine their new system’s performance and identify new ways to achieve its goals, by asking if the system can:

  1. Recognize Failure – that goals are not being achieved;
  2. Diagnose the root cause of the system’s current performance;
  3. Construct better solutions;
  4. Predict future events or behaviours;
  5. Be considered Self-aware.

Guideline #4: Accountability

Cities must be held accountable for their actions, Fox said – which means their systems must be as well. That means digital transformers must be able to:

  1. Determine Responsibility by ensuring the system leaves a digital trail of information they can follow to identify the cause of a particular decision or action;
  2. Determine the Underlying Basis for decisions by identifying and analyzing recurring patterns of behaviour;
  3. Appoint a Digital Ombud – someone the system is accountable to.


When it comes to potholes, Fox acknowledged there is no magic bullet.

“It’s hard work,” he said. “I think the first step is awareness that these problems exist, and… identifying the areas you have to prioritize if you want to get rid of the sparseness in your data.”

“Cities don’t have infinite funds, or infinite people,” he continued. “So the question becomes identifying the areas in which we want to have a more complete understanding, and the data necessary to develop that complete understanding.”

As for sinkholes, Fox said he hopes that future software vendors hired by Toronto – or any city – meet his four guidelines before either party signs a contract.

“The city’s not going to build its own systems all the time – the vast majority comes from enterprise software vendors,” he told “To what extent can we expect accountability? To what extent do we have digital traces of what goes on within the system? To what extent can we use those traces to actually track down the root causes of poor execution, or decision-making?”

“These are the elements that we need to build into our cities’ enterprise software systems,” he said.

Discussing open data with Equinix’s Andrew Eppich [Technicity]

Steve Proctor Steve Proctor Published: 01/16/2017

ITWC partnered with the City of Toronto to co-host Technicity on Dec. 7, 2016. The day brought together leadership within the organization of the city, Toronto’s technology leaders, and influencers from elsewhere to discuss both the opportunity and the challenges brought by the Internet of Things to municipalities. We’ll be featuring a series of interviews we conducted that day on

After moderating a panel on open data that included representatives from both the public and private sector, Equinix Canada’s Andrew Eppich took a moment to discuss why he believes the two sides need to collaborate more often, and the challenges they face along the way, with ITWC communication and marketing director Steve Proctor.

Focus on customer experience is key to city’s success too: panel

Brian Jackson Brian Jackson Published: 12/07/2016

Both public and private organizations may face some costs and challenges in putting the customer experience at the centre of their efforts, but not doing so is likely an even greater risk, a panel of executives agreed on Wednesday.

In a world where smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have redefined everyone’s expectations of digital experience and Amazon or Google seem able to dominate any new market at a whim, there’s a pressure to push down the digital transformation path.

Speaking at Technicity, an event co-hosted by IT World Canada and the City of Toronto, chief executives of a condo empire, a hospital, a technology vendor, and the City of Toronto recognized that pressure.

“Over the next five years, expect that the City will be focused on moving from traditional channels to non-traditional channels,” said Josie Scioli, chief corporate officer at the City of

Josie Scioli, City of Toronto
Josie Scioli says the City of Toronto has a goal to do more online.

Toronto. “We need to get our costs down and we need to make sure we’re effective in how we provide quality service.”

One example of the cost-saving potential Scioli pointed to is the 311 service. Available as both a phone service or as a web portal, the city’s information service costs much more when people choose to dial those three digits. A phone call costs about $18 per transaction, but a web transaction is just $2, she says. Also, the City has a goal of reducing from its current 41 service counters to just five, offloading the transactions to online.

At condo builder Tridel Corp., CIO Ted Maulucci saw an opportunity to save his customers money on their Internet bills. Rather than letting each resident choose from all the consumer Internet services available, Tridel has built its last 10 buildings to be utility Internet-based. That’s resulted in faster speeds provided at lower prices to all of the residents in each building.

Maulucci says that he’s realized that his customers didn’t mind losing the choice, because they view the Internet as a commodity like power or water. They just want it to work and be affordable.

“Communications are fundamental,” Maulucci says. “You wouldn’t live in a place where your phone doesn’t work. You wouldn’t want to live in a home where the Internet is terrible.”

Peter Bak was able to cut costs thanks to a robotics implementation.
Peter Bak was able to cut costs thanks to a robotics implementation.

The impetus for digital transformation at Humber River Hospital was safety, quality and again, driving cost savings, says Peter Bak, the CIO of the hospital. When the hospital expanded into a bigger space, Bak was able to find some of those cost savings thanks to a robotics implementation that avoided hiring new staff. Typically porters are tasked with moving things around a hospital – from patients and supplies to linens, foods and waste.

“We’ve automated all of that,” he says. “The payback is very clear, very clean, and nice.”

It was an upfront investment of $10 million, but with an estimated savings of $2.8 million per year, the ROI is definitely there, Bak says.

In the retail sector, Antoine Azar, co-founder of ThirdShelf, observes that independent operators are being threatened by technology-driven giants.

“Amazon can outcompete you in almost every way,” he says, pointing to its new ‘Go’ line of convenience and grocery stores in beta stage. “People can come in and take whatever they want off the shelf and check out without having to ever interact with a person.”

To help smaller retailers compete with that, ThirdShelf offers a software as a service (SaaS) model marketing platform and inventory management service. But more than the software, Azar says his company helps small firms understand the value of each customer.

“In this new economy when you sell software for $10 a month or $100 a month, I care about your success,” he says.

As more of the focus for building consumer experience shifts to digital, Toronto’s Scioli offered a reminder that not everyone is connected and tech-savvy in this world yet. The city plans to offer help to those who don’t have their own computer by providing terminals, perhaps in places like public libraries, with nearby advisors ready to help, he said.

Does focusing on data security constrain growth? Yes and no, experts say

Eric Emin Wood Eric Emin Wood Published: 12/06/2016

Ann Cavoukian, who served as Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner from 1997 until 2014 and now works for Ryerson University’s Privacy and Big Data Institute, believes that focusing on privacy and data security will not constrain a company’s growth.

Quite the opposite, actually.

Ann Cavoukian
Former Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian believes it’s by ignoring data privacy that companies limit their own growth.

“It’s a threat to not address security and privacy,” Cavoukian says, citing recent security incidents involving Madison Square Garden and the U.S. Navy as two examples of the many “remarkable, massive data breaches” that occur every day.

“The need for security is absolutely essential,” she says. “And while privacy subsumes a much broader set of protections than security alone, in this day and age of cyber attacks, if you don’t have a foundation of strong security, you’re never going to have any privacy.”

The case for ‘security by design’

Since leaving her position as Ontario’s security watchdog, Cavoukian has dedicated much of her time to advocating for what she calls a “non-zero-sum” approach to data privacy, emphasizing that enterprises and other data-dependent organizations should not develop security solutions by weighing one interest against another – say, privacy versus data utility – but by maximizing both, a process she calls security by design.

“It’s a challenge,” she acknowledges. “But doing it after the fact means you’re already missing out on so much – the data breach has happened, and you’re playing catch-up.”

By embedding security and privacy into a project’s design stage – whether said project involves coding, building a system, or developing an operational practice – it becomes an essential feature rather than an afterthought, one that can develop along with the rest of your work, Cavoukian says.

Naturally, she adds, this idea has met with resistance in certain circles.

“Whenever I see people say, ‘that will slow us down,’ I go, ‘are you kidding me? Privacy breeds innovation.’ Because you have to be really smart and creative to have those privacy and data utilities in place,” she says. “And you can do that best by embedding privacy into design.”

A business, rather than technical problem

To a great extent Jason Doel, co-founder and COO of IT risk management firm Tracker Networks Inc., echoes Cavoukian, but working in the risk management sphere has helped him understand why many companies – mid-sized businesses especially, along with some enterprises – are so often reluctant to implement the changes needed to shield their companies from both privacy advocates and cyberattacks in the first place.

Tracker Networks executive vice-president and COO Jason Doel
Tracker Networks executive vice-president and COO Jason Doel thinks security is more of a business problem than tech problem – and that it should restrain certain types of growth.

“To me, the words ‘security’ and ‘privacy’ – especially ‘security’ – have a technical connotation, rightly or wrongly, and so people tend to think of it as a technical issue, which I don’t think it is,” Doel says. “I think it’s really a business problem, and I think that’s part of the reason why there’s a disconnect.”

Framing security as a technical problem, he says, leads many businesses to evaluate it as a pass/fail proposition – that is, the company is either secure or it’s not – and ensuring the company’s security simply involves building virtual walls.

“I don’t think that model ever worked,” Doel says with a chuckle. “But I think companies are at different stages of recognizing that, and that at the end of the day it’s a business risk issue.”

Instead, he says, business leaders from the CEO and board members on down should strive to identify the risks their company faces – and what they’re prepared to accept – before repositioning security as part of their enterprise risk management scheme or, at the very least, making sure the two departments are aligned.

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That advice might be anathema to many Canadian companies, but the largest European and American multinational and financial services firms have already made the transition, he says, acknowledging that many midsize companies are still working through this realization, which in many cases requires translating technical concepts into business terms that the C-suite can understand.

“We use the term ‘crown jewels,'” Doel says. “What do you consider your crown jewels? … Too many people when they go into risk management take a traditional top-down approach of trying to estimate when bad things could happen, and I think they could make progress much faster by coming at it from the bottom up, by focusing on the crown jewels.”

Once you’ve identified your crown jewels, he says, you can also identify the systems hosting your most valuable data, along with the risks facing them, and prepare accordingly.

“There is no such thing as perfect security,” Doel says. “Every organization eventually gets hacked one way or another, and this idea that it’s the technicians’ problem and they have to keep everything perfect is not a realistic approach.”

“It’s similar to what I believe the financial industry went through when they embraced risk management, because the companies found that the better they got at risk management, the riskier business they were able to take on,” he says. “I think there’s a parallel in technology – when you have a good culture, when your business executives are aligned with your technology executives, and you have an objective, fact-based framework for making decisions regarding new innovations, then you can actually outperform your peers by being able to embrace innovation faster.”

It’s not just about recovery

More importantly, as Ryerson’s Cavoukian notes, embedding privacy-enhancing features such as data encryption into their code can help companies avoid headline-grabbing breaches in the first place.

“As you know, data breaches not only result in lawsuits, but class-action lawsuits,” Cavoukian says. “And it’s not just the dollars and cents paid by the company that is overwhelming, but the damage to your brand.”

“Trust is at an all-time low these days, so I always tell companies – use privacy to gain a competitive advantage,” she continues. “And, if you build trusted business relationships with your customers, they will gladly let you have their information for other secondary uses.”

Tracker Networks’ Doel also notes that in his opinion certain sectors, notably the Internet of Things (IoT), should be constrained by security concerns: “I don’t think it will be, but it probably should be,” he says with a chuckle. “I think the pressure of innovation is going to push it so fast that it’s going to outstrip our ability to secure it.”

After all, he notes, IoT has already formed the basis of many high-profile attacks – and without an industry framework in place, it’s likely to get worse before anyone figures out what to do about it.

Cavoukian and Doel will be joined by financial services firm TMX Group Ltd.’s chief information security officer, Bobby Singh, and identity management software developer BioConnect’s founder and CEO, Rob Douglas, for a panel entitled “Security and Privacy: Still Constraints to Growth?” at Technicity 2016, an IT World Canada-sponsored event taking place tomorrow, on
Dec. 7.

Will autonomous vehicles hit the streets in our lifetime?

Lindsey Peacock Lindsey Peacock Published: 11/25/2016

While driverless vehicles were once a vision that could only exist in science fiction, you’ve likely heard plenty of buzz about this high-tech concept hitting the streets via the Google car and Tesla’s autopilot.

However, experts in Toronto aren’t so sure that we’ll be seeing any driverless cars hitting city streets any time soon.

Ryan Lanyon, manager of street furniture management and chair of autonomous vehicle working group at the City of Toronto, says they’re asking plenty of questions about the impact of the technology.

“Officially, the City does not have a policy or position on vehicle automation,” Lanyon says. “As staff, we’re in the position of trying to navigate a lot of uncertainty in how automation will impact our services and what demands it will create on the transportation system. Our role right now is to ask better questions.”

The City will be doing thorough research between 2017 and 2019 via their working group, which will partner with universities and industry to examine the potential effects of driverless cars and report their findings back to city council.

He did confirm that the City of Toronto is the first municipality in North America to hire a full-time staff member dedicated to automation preparedness.

Alex Miller, president of Esri Canada, a geographic information system (GIS) firm that uses visual data mapping to facilitate decisions for cities and provinces across Canada, doesn’t believe we’ll be riding to work into downtown Toronto via a driverless car in the next few years.

Instead, like many other modern-day safety features in our vehicles, he says driverless cars will evolve over time as cities change and evolve.

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Like the anti-lock braking system, which was first introduced around 40 years ago, Miller says additional high-tech features will roll out over time that will eventually put the responsibility for most of the driving on the vehicle itself rather than the human “driver.” He foresees the industry rolling out accident avoidance features, such as automatically following the car in front of at a safe distance.

But before autonomous cars make drivers obsolete, Miller believes cities have plenty of work ahead of them when it comes to infrastructure.

“One of the biggest challenges facing our world is that it’s all siloed,” he said. “The only thing that links us all together is geography.”

He used the analogy of a human touching a hot surface. The brain immediately responds and signals that you should remove your hand from the hot surface. But cities, he says, are more like reptiles. They’re a collection of neurons and systems that don’t necessarily communicate with one another (the water department may not communicate with the electric company, for example). Therefore, reactions to major happenings like road construction, downed power lines, or other such daily issues are slow and cumbersome.

“The first thing a smart city needs is an inventory of everything they have,” Miller says. “And then it needs to go to school to get knowledge and learn to be insightful about itself.”

He said this kind of knowledge a place like Toronto needs to support autonomous vehicles is a combination of precision mapping and plenty of sensors to transmit live information. Only then will smart cities have the infrastructure necessary to support driverless cars.

Autonomous cars is one of the topics to be discussed at the upcoming Technicity 2016 event. ara Rajani, will lead a panel session titled “Drones, Driverless

Zahra Rajani, will lead a panel session titled “Drones, Driverless Cars and IoT” during the event on Dec. 7.

Technicity is a one-day conference produced by IT World Canada that explores how the City of Toronto, local businesses and the IT industry are rethinking service delivery, operations and citizen engagement around the priority areas of transit, housing, anti-poverty and youth.


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