For the mayor of any modern city, an increasingly large part of the job entails managing the public backlash to new technology being deployed in those cities. The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to public fears about surveillance and data sharing. As tech tools are being used to track who’s infected with the virus and who they’ve come in contact with, local government officials are facing a crucial question: Who gets to know?
For this year’s virtual Web Summit, Protocol spoke with Mayor Sadiq Khan of London, Mayor John Tory of Toronto and Mayor Fernando Medina of Lisbon about how they’re adopting new technologies in their cities — from the London police’s new real-time facial recognition pilot to Toronto’s failed smart city partnership with Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs — and what new challenges COVID-19 poses. The mayors discussed how they’re grappling with public expectations and trying to fend off tech’s many unintended consequences.
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