What is a Data Trust?

A data trust is a technological platform that allows collectors of data to share their data with one another, while delegating the responsibilities and obligations of management to a trusted third-party entity – in this case, Innovate Cities. It is a foundational piece of innovation infrastructure that has the power to mobilize data for good. The aggregated data can then safely be used for analysis, research, innovation, and technological development which aim to improve the lives of communities in which our innovators operate. CityShield, our unique not-for-profit data trust, offers a solution to the central challenge of putting data to work for good, while ensuring both access to data and the protection of personal privacy.CityShield will act as a public utility, building “Smart Cities for All”.

CityShield is the only data trust in Southern Ontario that:

  • operates as a not-for-profit public utility;
  • is not defined by a single purpose or specific neighbourhood, municipal area, or other geographic location;
  • gives data providers control over who can use their data;
  • uses leading governance practices and advanced technology to protect PII;
  • uses Canadian technology and a Canadian cloud provider to ensure that all data trust activities are based in Canada;
  • has an advisory board to keep it apprised of privacy, community and technological matters; and
  • has, as a result of its design and governance features, the ability to earn the trust of those who live, work and play in cities.

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City Shield is the only Data Trust offering within Canada that can guarantee that data, derivative data, and processing of data does not leave Canada or fall under the jurisdiction of any foreign nations. This is due to the fact that the technology providers we are using for our Data Trust infrastructure are all Canadian companies that fall under Canadian laws. Most notably, our cloud provider is the only Canadian cloud service provider certified for secure workloads with the Canadian government.


It is a known fact that due to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in the United States of America, those who use foreign public cloud computer providers still face risk to their data. Even though their data may reside in Canada, due to the fact that they are hosted by US companies, they are still subject to foreign laws. As can be seen on the Government of Canada website, it is acknowledged that there still remains a data sovereignty risk. "The primary risk to data sovereignty is the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the US government’s ability to compel an organization subject to U.S. law to turn over data under its control, regardless of the data’s location and without notifying Canada."

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