Canadian experts guide local data trust pilot

Alison Springate Guelph Smart City Office • 10 December 2020

Our Food Future launches two innovative, data-focused projects

Guelph, Ont., December 10, 2020 – The Guelph-Wellington Smart Cities initiative has launched two important data focused Our Food Future projects: the Food Future Data Hub and the formation of a Data Utility Advisory Committee.

The Data Hub, an online platform that pulls together open data sets from Our Food Future collaborators, helps the community understand the challenges and opportunities within the food system. The Data Utility is envisioned to be a central trusted resource that will help public, private and not-for-profit organizations share and collaborate using data in ways that support social and economic priorities in our communities.

The Data Hub

The Data Hub, an online platform that pulls together open data sets from Our Food Future collaborators, helps the community understand the challenges and opportunities within the food system. The Data Utility is envisioned to be a central trusted resource that will help public, private and not-for-profit organizations share and collaborate using data in ways that support social and economic priorities in our communities.

The Smart Cities Office, which oversees the Our Food Future initiative, hopes that in addition to the development of apps, the data will help identify new challenges or opportunities in support of creating Canada’s first technology-enabled circular food economy.

The Data Hub is available at datahub.foodfuture.ca.

The Data Utility and Advisory Committee

The Smart Cities Office is taking the Data Hub one step further by piloting the creation of a community-led civic data trust – the Data Utility.

Like existing water and power utilities, the Data Utility, once built, will be a trusted third-party collaborator that helps organizations or businesses share and access the data they need to advance their business in a circular economy. This is a relatively new concept, and Guelph will be one of the first places in the world to test this approach as part of its Smart Cities initiative.

Through Data Utility, the City of Guelph and partners are committed to protecting the privacy of residents. The initial focus of the Data Utility will be creating a neutral platform to share non-sensitive business data. However, transparency and strong governance are critical to maintaining public trust.

To help advance this vision, the Smart Cities’ team has assembled an Advisory Committee of Canadian experts in data, innovation, security, privacy and ethics to provide guidance on the creation of the Data Utility. The Advisory Committee is co-chaired by Alectra Utilities and the Smart Cities Office. Together the committee will help explore specific use cases to make connections between businesses and public/private organizations to realize value in data.

”Data is a foundational element of our changing economy,” says Neetika Sathe, Vice President, Green Energy and Technology Centre, Alectra and co-chair of the Our Food Future, Data Utility Advisory Committee. “It's important to pilot the Data Utility concept, to help our customers identify smarter, greener approaches in a trusted and transparent way.”

“Through this initiative, the City is able to pilot an innovative and collaborative approach to providing the resources, in this case, data, that government and businesses need to make improvements or solve complex problems,” says Scott Stewart, City of Guelph CAO. “The City already provides City-related data through its GeoDataHub and Open Data Portals. The Our Food Future Data Hub and Utility strengthen this work, and our commitment to working with the community to be future ready.”

Sitting on the Data Utility Advisory Committee are experts from Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, the Ontario Digital Service, University of Guelph, Communitech, Accenture, BAI Communications, Appleflat Foods, Geosyntec Consultants, Instacart, MaRS Solutions Lab, Alectra Utilities, County of Wellington and the City of Guelph.

About Our Food Future

Inspired by the planet’s natural cycles, a circular food economy reimagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, eliminating waste, sharing economic prosperity, and nourishing our communities. In Guelph-Wellington, we are working to build Canada’s first circular food economy that will achieve a 50% increase in access to affordable nutritious food, 50 new circular economy businesses and collaborations, and a 50% increase in circular economic benefit by unlocking the value of waste.

Media contacts

Barbara Swartzentruber, Executive Director
Smart Cities Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3066
barbara.swartzentruber@guelph.ca

Neetika Sathe, Vice President
Green Energy and Technology Centre
Alectra
neetika.sathe@alectra.com