OCAD U is conducting research tied to Sidewalk Labs’ proposal for a “smart city” that would be built on a 12-acre site known as Quayside. In mid-September, ten research grants were made available to faculty members at post-secondary institutions and three of these grants were awarded to OCAD U researchers. The initiative is funded by Sidewalk Labs, Waterfront Toronto and the Toronto Foundation.

One of the projects that received funding, Culture Creates Bonds, is being led by President Sara Diamond and Dr. Alia Weston. The project, which studies how people build community bonds in neighbourhoods. was featured in the Toronto Star.

The OCAD U teams will be working on projects that address a diverse range of topics including Canadian models of community governance, community bonds and Toronto housing innovation:

1. Smart Communities as Platform Co-operatives

The research team will explore the potential advantages/disadvantages and feasibility of applying the platform co-op model to the development of an online platform that is needed to organize a smart city. The research team has global expertise in platform cooperatives and inclusive design.  

Research team is led by Dr. Jutta Treviranus

2. Housing Typology Innovations

SystemCITY Research Group investigates innovative affordable housing projects, partnerships and possibilities, both locally and globally. This project interprets local affordable housing innovations within the larger context of innovative new global housing typologies and strategies.

Faculty: Jeremy Bowes, Maya Desai, Neal Prabhu

3. Culture Creates Bonds

From OCAD U's Visual Analytics Lab: The study will concentrate on defining a specific set of key drivers, scenarios, and conditions that create natural human bonds in a residential or immediate neighbourhood. The focus of this research is on arts and culture activity within communities.

Faculty: Dr. Sara Diamond, Dr. Alia Weston, Marcus Gordon

Reports are due in late November and the findings will feed into a master plan for the Sidewalk development, slated to be completed by the end of the year or early in 2019.