What is the Smart City Playground?

The Smart City Playground is an ongoing community engagement project on the future of Smart city technology and what that could mean for urban spaces.

The playground is a set of foresight scenarios and community walks that explore what a future with smart tech might look like in public spaces and asks questions on what we need to be thinking about now to prepare for it.

How do we imagine the city of tomorrow, today?

Smart City Playground is a collaboration of citizens from across Canada who have become excited by the prospect of Smart Cities, but want to understand it better and how it will impact our lives.

Recently we have seen a spate of new initiatives such as the federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge, the Sidewalk Toronto project and the Smart City Sandbox which will bring amazing new technologies to cities allowing for easier access to services, more informed decisions and data points we’ve never had access to in the past. These new technologies could bring unprecedented opportunities and powers to cities and decision makers.

But as with all new powers & technologies, there also comes new responsibilities – to protect what is important to us and guard against any undesirable unintended outcomes. We’ve seen this happen before in the past – automobiles were the technology that allowed us to travel like never before, but it also brought unintended sprawl, pollution and unhealthy outcomes all over the world.

We want to have a conversation with Canadians about what could happen, what are the benefits we want and what are the consequences we want to avoid. And what better way to talk about it than through play?

Welcome to the Smart City Playground!

Project Co-ordinators: Amy ZhouHoward Tam & Nate Gerber

Our Playground Journey

See all our news

What's Happening?


Our next intervention is in Toronto!

Smart Cities: What does this really mean for Toronto?

Date: Saturday May 25 2019
Time: 11am-3pm
Location:  Toronto Reference Library Atrium

Smart cities: The new buzzword in urbanism is all around us, but what makes them so “smart”? Who really benefits and who gets left out from a smart city? Join us at the Smart City Playground in Toronto to de-code cities, people and technology!

There are many conversations in the media around Smart City issues including privacy, handling of data, impact on marginalized communities and public spaces. But it’s not always easy for citizens to make sense of it all.

So we’re turning the Atrium of the Toronto Reference Library into a playground to discuss smart cities. There will be stations where you can discover different topics such as data privacy, data governance and data consent. At each station, we’ll have facilitated discussions to create much needed space to talk about these issues.

The Atrium is also the starting point for a series of Jane’s Walk Walkshops about smart cities and data issues in our lives already. Jane?s Walks are community-based walking tours to make space for people to observe, reflect, share, question and re-imagine the places in which they live, work and play. You’ll be able to join groups to walk around the surrounding neighbourhood and talk about CCTV security, PRESTO data and facial recognition in retail.

So let’s explore together what a smart city is, what it’s not, and what’s really happening under the lid! See you in the Atrium!


11:00am – Smart City Playground & Stations Open

11:30am – First Jane’s Walk Departs from Atrium

12:30pm – Discussion: What urban issues can technology help us solve?

1:00pm – Second Jane’s Walk Departs from Atrium

2:00pm – Discussion: What existing technologies can help us already solve these challenges?

2:30pm – Last Jane’s Walk Departs from Atrium

3:00pm – Playground closes

This project is a collaboration between ThinkFresh Group, Amy Zhou & Toronto Public Library. The Smart City Playground is supported by the Digital Rights Community Grant Program, a partnership between Digital Justice Lab, Tech Reset Canada and Centre for Digital Rights.

This event is also part of the Toronto Public Library’s  #OnCivilSociety series, where we host events on democracy, equality, urbanism, security, wellness, resilience, the media, technology, and more.

How Can I Help?


Come join us and share your thoughts on smart cities or volunteer with us!
We’re looking for general help volunteers and facilitator volunteers. Click the button below!

Previous Engagements