Love or hate them, Google (Alphabet, Inc., actually) has money to spend. Google has agreed to invest $50 million into planning Sidewalk Toronto. The waterfront project envisions a high-tech community, prioritizing sustainability, safety, and affordability. Innovative technologies include: self-driving vehicles, underground garbage collection, green energy, snow-melting sidewalks, modular construction, and a lot of data collection.
This is where the hate comes to play. Many local leaders have privacy concerns. Built “from the Internet up”, connected sensors will enable extensive data collection. People will share personal information to access customized programs and services.
Is the privacy trade-off worth the promised increased sustainability, efficiency, and responsiveness? The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) recently reported on how companies must deal with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR mandates transparency around information gathering and sharing. The EU’s move has raised awareness and concern.
These concerns are wrapped around sustainability concepts and practices. The waterfront community may ultimately reach over $1 billion invested. That’s not counting the $300 million Toronto green bond and dozens of companies based in Toronto focused on sustainability.
Toronto boasts over 800 sustainability-related jobs with over 3000 throughout Canada (Indeed). Sustainability experts are required who understand finance, government, and law. Companies in play will face ever-changing regulations, reporting requirements and CSR expectations.
Sustainability practitioners will be best positioned to meet these needs. Among many disciplines, CSE has trained real estate developers, NGO leaders, investment professionals and executives from the Fortune 500. CSE will deliver its Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Program, Advanced Edition 2018, for a second time this year in Toronto, October 25-26, 2018.