On the 7th of October, 2021, the Coalition’s colleagues from Toronto delivered a webinar to other members on their ongoing process of creation of a Digital Infrastructure Plan (DIP). Other cities were able to provide feedback and learn from the experience of creating a city-wide policy framework to regulate digital infrastructure and data.
The DIP aims to ensure that citizens benefit from digital infrastructure and is designed to protect against the potential risks posed by data and technology for residents and communities, such as increasing inequity and privacy breaches.
The Plan is structured into six principles, and for each of them it establishes 1) a vision statement, 2) a descriptive text, 3) policy areas and 4) policy statements. The principles the DIP follows are:
- Equity and inclusion. Digital infrastructure will be used to create and sustain equity, inclusion, accessibility, and human rights in its operations and outcomes. Digital infrastructure will be flexible, adaptable and responsive to the needs of all Torontonians, including Indigenous, Black, equity-deserving groups, and those with accessibility needs.
- A Well-run city. Digital Infrastructure will enable high quality, resilient and innovative public services, and support the use of data and evidence to inform decision making.
- Social, environmental and economic benefits. Digital Infrastructure will contribute to positive social, economic and environmental benefits by supporting the success of Toronto's residents, businesses, academic institutions and community organizations.
- Privacy and security. Toronto's Digital Infrastructure will operate in a way that protects the privacy of individuals in accordance with legislative requirements, and be safe from misuse, hacks, theft or breaches.
- Democracy and transparency. Decisions about Digital Infrastructure will be made democratically, in a way that is ethical, accountable, transparent and subject to oversight. Torontonians will be provided with understandable, timely, and accurate information about the technologies in their city, and opportunities to shape the digital domain.
- Digital Autonomy. The City will maintain control in the selection, use and design of its digital infrastructure, so that it – and its residents - can act with autonomy and in a self-determined manner within the digital realm.
The DIP is targeted at residents, city staff and businesses, and will be implemented on an ongoing basis as part of the process of digital transformation after its adoption by the City Council. It has been elaborated with a focus on building trust and confidence, and multiple stakeholders have been reached out through various outreach techniques (online and offline) for input. The result is a document that includes a wide variety of voices through processes of consultation, and that explicitly takes feedback of equity-deserving groups into account.
The Digital Infrastructure Plan has just gone past its gathering feedback phase and will be presented to City Council in January 2022. To learn more about the DIP and speak to the project team, visit http://toronto.ca/digitalto or email email@example.com.