The collection of vast quantities of personal data from embedded sensors is increasingly an aspect of urban life. This type of data collection is a feature of so-called smart cities, and it raises important questions about data governance. This is particularly the case where the data may be made available for reuse by others and for a variety of purposes.

This paper focuses on the governance of data captured through “smart” technologies and uses Ontario’s smart metering program as a case study. Ontario rolled out mandatory smart metering for electrical consumption in the early 2000s largely to meet energy conservation goals. In doing so, it designed a centralized data governance system overseen by the Smart Metering Entity to manage smart meter data and to protect consumer privacy. As interest in access to the data grew among third parties, and as new potential applications for the data emerged, the regulator sought to develop a model for data sharing that would protect privacy in relation to these new uses and that would avoid uses that might harm the public interest. 

  • Teresa Scassa is a CIGI senior fellow. She is also the Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy and a full professor at the University of Ottawa’s Law Faculty, where her groundbreaking research explores issues of data ownership and control.

  • Merlynda Vilain is entering her final year of the six-year juris doctor (French common law) and bachelor of commerce combined program at the University of Ottawa.