ThinkData Works’ co-founder and CEO Bryan Smith has been named Vice-Chair of the Government of Ontario’s first-ever Digital and Data Task Force. The task force is part of a wider provincial strategy to help Ontarians benefit directly from the data economy, improving the data literacy of both citizens and businesses while ensuring their personal privacy is protected.
The task force is being developed by the province’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, and is comprised of both task force members and in-person and online consultations to “gather expertise and insights into developing and implementing a best-in-class data strategy.”
As Vice-Chair, Smith brings extensive knowledge of Canada’s digital history to the task force. Prior to ThinkData, Smith was a policy advisor to the Prime Minister in the Treasury and Budget Office, where he was directly involved in the development and implementation of Canada’s Open Data Portal – the first open data initiative in the country. Smith was also the foreign liaison for Canada’s involvement in the Open Government Partnership and the political liaison for Canada’s Digital and Data Strategy.
In 2014, Smith co-founded ThinkData Works, a Toronto-based company that neutralizes data variety to enable businesses and individuals to use more data, more effectively. With roots in the open data movement and community, ThinkData Works aims to democratize data use while ensuring personal privacy is protected. In March of 2019, when Vermont passed a law requiring companies that buy and sell third-party data to register with the Secretary of State, Smith went on record admonishing businesses that harvest and sell personal data without consent. “If this type of data is your business, pivot,” wrote Smith. “The negative effects of being on the wrong side of responsible data democratization will far outweigh any business advantage in the very near term.” Since then, Smith and ThinkData have publicly supported Canada’s Algorithmic Impact Assessment, a tool that measures the impact of companies building AI solutions.
In January 2019 ThinkData was pre-qualified by the Government of Canada to deliver contracts worth up to $9M related to artificial intelligence services, solutions, and products.
Commenting on his appointment as Vice-Chair to the Digital and Data Task Force, Smith said, “it’s never been more important for Ontario to help businesses and individuals understand and use data effectively. This task force has the potential to not only develop a framework for responsive and responsible data use, but also dispel some myths about data in general.”
The task force consultations will take place over the summer in six locations across Ontario. For more information, access the official press release from the province.