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Global Smart Cities experts convene on Toronto's waterfront

Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy, Waterfront Toronto president and CEO John Campbell, Intelligent Community Forum co-founder Robert Bell and host of CBC Radio's Spark Nora Young participate in a panel discussion at Corus Quay.

On Friday, March 7th, Waterfront Toronto invited global smart city experts to Corus Quay on the waterfront to share the latest perspectives on new trends in technology, innovation and collaboration. John Campbell, President and CEO of Waterfront Toronto, was joined by the Honourable Glenn Murray, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure; Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University; Robert Bell, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum (New York, USA) and Rashik Parmar, President of IBM Academy of Technology (London, UK). Speakers tackled subjects from the policies and infrastructure required to support innovation, to the leadership required from the public and private sector to put them in place.

John Campbell opened the event with remarks that highlighted how Toronto’s waterfront revitalization is acting as a catalyst for the city’s rise as a North American centre for Information and Communications Technology. He underscored important “digital inclusion” programs that have both social and economic impact, like affordable access to ultra-high-speed broadband and ubiquitous neighbourhood-wide Wi-Fi. “Digital inclusion is not just a social policy,” Campbell told the crowd. “It is also an innovation policy.”

Minister Murray spoke about the changing realities of the Canadian economy and the shift from manufacturing to a creative economy, which is building capacity in science, technology, design, culture, and financial and professional services. "To build 21st-century, intelligent cities, we need more communities like Waterfront Toronto,” said the Minister. “Places that support higher density, next generation IT and quality of life – where the technology is wireless but culture is hard-wired.”

Nora Young, the creator and host of CBC Radio’s Spark, moderated an on-stage conversation with Intelligent Community Forum co-founder Robert Bell, Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy and John Campbell. Their discussion focused on the key strategies that cities are using to reimagine themselves in an age when digital technology reigns supreme. “Cities need to reinvent the playbook,” said Bell, calling attention to how the reality of broadband Internet access and video streaming was fundamentally altering the benefits of co-locating businesses and clustering commercial activities.

“We need to get away from building offices,” Levy contended. “We need to build communities. People need to bump into each other with their ideas.”

The event’s global perspective was rounded out by IBM Academy of Technology president Rashik Parmar, who spoke about how cities and their leadership can leverage Big Data analysis to build citizens’ trust and find a common and engaging agenda.

This was the first event in an on-going series that will focus on advanced technology and new tools that drive innovation and economic competitiveness for cities in the global marketplace.

Follow @TheNewBlueEdge and @WaterfrontTO on Twitter for more news and updates.

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Global Smart Cities experts convene on Toronto's waterfront
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