05 Jun, 2018

Cost, opportunity, and promise: Impact of ‘smart cites’ for local governments

Two new IMFG Papers provide lessons for local governments in managing and regulating smart-city technologies.

Toronto, June 5, 2018 – The recent swell of interest in smart cities and the platform economy draws attention to the way the city of the future will be designed, built, and run. How will the shift toward “smart” impact city finance, governance, and service delivery? Two new papers released today by the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) provide some lessons.

In The Platform Economy and Regulatory Disruption: Estimating the Impact on Municipal Revenue in Toronto, IMFG Visiting Researcher Zachary Spicer looks at the regulatory cost and potential revenue opportunities of the platform economy, using the experiences of three firms in Toronto: Uber, Airbnb, and Rover. Platform economy firms such as these have attracted attention in cities around the world. But little has been written about the effects of the platform economy on municipal fiscal health. Spicer argues that with effective regulation, the platform economy would have a minimal impact on city revenues.

Read the paper

In Promise and Peril in the Smart City: Local Government in the Age of Digital Urbanism, Toronto journalist John Lorinc argues that we should embrace the smart city promise of optimized urban systems, but do so in constructively critical ways. Smart-city technologies have the potential to dramatically alter the urban landscape, for good and ill. Policymakers, technology providers, and citizens now face the challenge of devising democratic and inclusive approaches to assessing smart-city products and services, and the governance systems required for communities that use these systems. This paper is based on findings from an IMFG event in January 2018, co-sponsored with the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Read the paper

About the Authors

John Lorinc is a Toronto journalist and editor who writes about urban affairs for various publications, including Spacing, The Globe and Mail, and Walrus Magazine.

Zachary Spicer is a Visiting Researcher with the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance and recently served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Brock University.

About the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG)

The Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance is a research hub and think tank that focuses on the fiscal and governance challenges facing large cities and city-regions. It is located within the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

For more information, please contact:

Selena Zhang | Manager, Programs and Research
Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, University of Toronto
selena.zhang@utoronto.ca | 416-978-5117