Interdisciplinary Research to Address Technical and Social Barriers in Smart Cities and Communities


Smart Cities and Communities (SCC) are becoming more widespread. Data-collecting technologies help city planners, programmers, policy-makers base their decisions on the most up-to-date and accurate information. As major centres like New York, Singapore, and Seoul achieve global recognition for their use of data-sharing and sensing technologies (sensors, cameras, and connected devices), smaller centres, like London Ontario, are following suit.

Despite their considerable advantages, SCCs present certain risks to citizens. For example, a key and pressing issue is the use of citizen data without oversight and consideration for privacy rights. This WAFAR theme will explore emerging social, ethical, economic, and technical challenges by adopting a collaborative and interdisciplinary framework for research, where experts across the university and the world, industry partners, local organizations, government agencies, stakeholders, and policymakers will collaborate to identify solutions and to mitigate potential risks.

This research theme will engage the university and broader community through a combination of activities, including interdisciplinary lecture series, graduate seminars, outreach events, and industry workshops. Scholarly outputs will complement Western’s new Smart City educational program and the SCC laboratory, which integrates industry and government partners and researchers in engineering, ethics, information studies, and law. Ultimately, our Western and Visiting Fellows will work together to help communities and their leaders create a blueprint for an ethical, technologically-driven future.

Meet the Smart Cities and Communities team