Digital Policy Salon: Sustainability in Technology and Policy



Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: Sustainability in Technology and Policy
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #32 • View online
Welcome to the thirty-second issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing.
Our theme this week is sustainability in technology and policy, with a focus on the environment and long-term planning for the Canadian economy and technology ecosystem. Policymaking momentum is in full swing following this autumn’s throne speech, and our updates touch upon several new pieces of legislation proposed by the federal government on data privacy and climate change.
Next, the newsletter’s perspective and interview pieces pivot to emerging technologies, kicking off with a new report overview that provides a reader-friendly summary of our recent immersive reality report. Meanwhile, this week’s interview examines the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii)‘s work on applied AI. Similarly, our “what we’re reading” pieces explore new developments in NLP and tech equity for education in Canada.
The smart economy rounds out this week’s content. We feature new data on community mobility in our data visualization and a brief on smart cities around the world in our research section.
Finally, be sure to check out next week’s upcoming special event: we’ll be livestreaming two acclaimed guest speakers on the theme “Smart Energy and Environment” on December 3rd.

Policy Updates 🇨🇦
Following years of consultations and debate, federal government proposes new private sector privacy law
The federal government introduced new private sector privacy law last week through the proposed Digital Charter Implementation Act. Included in the Act are new provisions related to meaningful consent, withdrawal of consent, data mobility, algorithmic transparency, and de-identified information, alongside new enforcement mechanisms, powers, and fines.
If passed, the Act will have numerous implications for the digital economy. New algorithmic transparency provisions would require businesses to be transparent when using automated decision-making systems to make predictions, recommendations, and/or decisions about individuals. Meanwhile, new provisions related to data mobility would create greater certainty and clarity in industries like open banking.
New climate Bill sparks debate, discussion on the progress of carbon reduction and clean energy
A second Bill proposed by the federal government last week would require Canada to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and require the Minister of Environment to set legally binding reduction targets and provide progress updates every five years until then. While technically legally binding, there would be no legal penalties if the targets were not met.
Meanwhile, Canada’s energy regulator has said in a new report that reaching net-zero emissions over the next 30 years will require much greater efforts to transition Canada towards a net-zero energy system. Current projections suggest that oil and gas will still account for nearly two-thirds of Canada’s energy sources by 2050.
Clean energy projects are springing up across Canada as the relative cost of clean energy declines
New projects in solar, wind, geothermal, and nuclear energy are emerging across the country in high numbers, including two new solar farms in Alberta. Three Nations Energy opened a new Indigenous-owned solar farm last week that is expected to replace approximately 800,000 litres of diesel or 2,736 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, and Greengate Power, through the Travers Solar Project, is developing Canada’s largest solar power installation to date.
The relative cost of solar and wind compared to oil and gas has continued to decline, but increased storage capacity is still needed for their success. Mairead Matthews
Our Perspective
Spanning the Virtual Frontier | Overview
Special Events
Join Us for an ICTC Policy Presentation on Smart Energy & the Environment
Interviews in the Field
Applying Artificial Intelligence Intelligently
Anna Koop, Managing Director of Science at Amii
Anna Koop, Managing Director of Science at Amii
Video & Audio
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted Canada’s digital divide, placing an acute focus on the importance of digital equity in providing improved access to education, healthcare, employment, and social and economic opportunities. ManAce, ICTC, and Tech Manitoba sit down for a panel discussion to explore the relationship between broadband infrastructure, tech equity, and what that means for youth across Manitoba. This discussion also covers a few international case studies and key insights from ICTC and Tech Manitoba’s upcoming report, titled “Manitoba and a Digital-First Future: The Implications of Connectivity on Tech Equity and Education.” - Nathan Snider
What we're reading
tl;dr: this AI sums up research papers in a sentence
Research Visualized
From April to the middle of November 2020, Canada saw an average of 48% fewer visitors to transit stations and 34.5% fewer visitors to workplaces (compared to a baseline from January 3 to February 6 of the same year). In other words, the onset of the pandemic has struck a significant blow to public transit use, and about a third fewer people are going to their workplaces than in the beginning of 2020. Similarly, the number of hours spent in one’s home is up by an average of approximately 11.5% across the country from April to the present.
Changes in Canadian Mobility Since the COVID-19 Pandemic (Source: Google Community Mobility Reports, Accessed November 22, Analysis by ICTC)
Changes in Canadian Mobility Since the COVID-19 Pandemic (Source: Google Community Mobility Reports, Accessed November 22, Analysis by ICTC)
Google released its “COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports” to help public health officials understand and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The dataset includes information about particular cities and health regions, as well as changes in use of retail & recreation spaces, grocery & pharmacy, and parks. For information about your community’s new mobility patterns, check out the dataset at:
Google LLC “Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports”.
Our Research
Smart Developments at Home and Abroad
Twitter Highlights
CBC British Columbia
Facial recognition technology, previously used on humans, has huge implications for managing bear-human interactions, says a UVic ecologist who has developed the software to identify grizzly bears.
Robert Davidson, from @ICTC_CTIC, will be the presenter at our Virtual Lunch + Learn concentrating on cybersecurity for startups! Are you curious about cybersecurity best practices? If so, be sure to join us on Dec. 2 at 12pm. Register now here:
Talk to Us 💬
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