The Intelligent Communities Project


The Intelligent Communities project is part of a $5.1 million project led by University of Toronto and Munk School Professor, Dr. David Wolfe, to examine Canada’s digital economy performance from a global perspective. This SSHRC funded research, entitled Creating Digital Opportunity, brings together researchers from 16 universities and 12 corporate and organizational partners to tackle this important topic. The Intelligent Communities component of this research program will examine the role of digital technologies in building intelligent communities with the goal of acquiring a better sense of what an intelligent community is.

The idea of community intelligence emerged in the 1990s when cities that were applying technology to various functions were labeled smart cities. Subsequently, the term intelligent community was used as a reference for communities that, in addition to incorporating digital best practices, were also developing strategies with economic and social dimensions. Today, the use and adoption of digital technology in our cities provides potential to transform the capacity of communities to serve citizens, to live connected, sustainable lives, meet growing demands by community actors, and tackle challenging policy problems.

To make a contribution in this area this work will survey (1) Canadian citizens in Canada’s largest city-regions, (2) Local government administration in those areas, and (3) Key industrial partners and companies to shed light on the following research questions:

  1. To what extent are Canadian communities using digital infrastructure to become intelligent communities, employing e-health, e-work, e- commerce, e-education and e-government to create digital opportunities for all citizens?
  2. How do key stakeholders define an intelligent community?
  3. What measures best assess community intelligence?

Examining these questions will allow us to better understand the role that digital is playing in the evolution and development of communities and how technology can contribute to creating more resilient and sustainable cities. As technology continues to pervade our everyday life and democracy moves online, this knowledge will be increasingly important to reach societal actors, engage them in digital forums, and to build community capacity.