About This Primer

This Primer is meant to provide an easy to read and reliable introduction to civic digital trusts. We hope this will help people inform themselves about a topic that is important to the future of cities, but not widely understood. When everyone has easy access to the facts, more people can participate more meaningfully in a better quality conversation.
This is not just a conversation about legal structures and data architectures. It is actually a conversation about how we want to live our lives together in the digital age. It is a conversation people in every city will soon need to have about the kind of society they want to become. This conversation is too important to be only happening between urban planners and technologists. It requires the participation of all city residents.
This is a conversation that Toronto, Canada is just starting to have. The process of developing a Master Innovation and Development Plan for the Quayside smart city demonstration neighbourhood on the Toronto waterfront has started people talking about rights, freedoms, and responsibilities in the digital age. It has also prompted people to search for practical solutions to responsibly share data to unlock the potential of smart cities.
The process is convened by the MaRS Solutions Lab working in partnership with Waterfront Toronto. Partial funding has also been provided by Sidewalk Labs. MaRS interviewed 11 national and international subject matter experts. There were 37 workshop participants, including representatives from municipal, provincial and federal government; universities and civic sector organizations; and startups, consultancies and national corporations. The co-authors and participants in this process include:
Aaron Barter
Waterfront Toronto
Andrew Young
The Governance Lab
Alex Ryan
MaRS Discovery District
Beth Coleman
Faculty of Arts, University of Waterloo
Charles Finley
Code for Canada
Chris Makris
MaRS Discovery District
Joe Greenwood
MaRS Discovery District
Kevin Stolarick
Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University
Kristina Verner
Waterfront Toronto
Lisa Austin
Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
Michel Girard
Centre for International Governance Innovation
Mikayla Zolis
MaRS Discovery District
Sasha Sud
MaRS Discovery District
Sergio De Lara
MaRS Discovery District
Sharon Bauer
Timothy Banks
nNovation LLP
Vanessa Matos
MaRS Discovery District


All decisions and actions taken by the end user of this Primer that may be based upon any information, advice or suggestion in the report are solely the responsibility of the end user. The end user acknowledges that any information, advice or suggestion provided in the report are for educational purposes only and do not constitute financial, business or legal opinions of any kind. The information contained in this report may not reflect the most current developments; accordingly, information is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete. The end user must not rely on any of that information, advice or suggestions without obtaining its own independent financial, business and legal advice. The information in the report is completely “AS IS” and MaRS Discovery District disclaims all representations, warranties, guarantees, and conditions of any kind in relation to the report.