10 Feb, 2016

New IMFG Paper Looks at Opportunities for City Governments to Harness the Data Revolution

New IMFG Paper, “Cities, Data, and Digital Innovation,” charts the course of big data and digital innovation in Toronto and London, UK, and offers a recipe for success.

Local governments are abuzz with the opportunities that Big Data, Open Government, and Smart Cities offer to drive economic growth, improve transparency and accountability, build public engagement, and deliver higher quality city services at lower costs. In a new IMFG Paper, Cities, Data, and Digital Innovation, co-sponsored by the Innovation Policy Lab (IPL) and the City of Toronto, Mark Kleinman disentangles these overlapping ideas and charts how governments in Toronto, Canada and London, England have responded to them.

Kleinman finds that while there is no silver bullet for success, a number of factors can help cities harness the power of the data revolution. Cities need to:

  • develop comprehensive strategies, based on understanding the strengths of their economies, and the city’s role in the global production chain;
  • promote both the start-up and scale-up of local digital innovators, and link innovators to the city’s challenges;
  • build support from higher level governments and create strong partnerships with local universities;
  • become intelligent clients for smart city solutions; and
  • implement digital inclusion policies to ensure all citizens benefit.

Kleinman sees huge opportunities for Toronto given the city’s fundamental assets, which include strong educational institutions, talent attraction, livability, diversity, and a stable banking system. However, these opportunities are restricted to some extent by fragmented governance arrangements and the lack of strong public-private networks across the wider Toronto region. He believes that city leaders in all sectors should develop a shared narrative about the future of the city region and the role that digital innovation and data can play.

About the Author
Mark Kleinman works for the Greater London Authority (GLA) where he leads the Mayor of London’s Economic and Business Policy Team. He is the author of four books and over 100 published papers. In 2015, he was a visiting scholar at IMFG and IPL at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.