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Breaking Silos, Building Homes: The Power of Data Collaboration

From a presentation about Digital Twins, to a lightning talk about planning and housing dashboards, and hearing from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing about Ontario Regulation 73/23, it was a day packed with learning and networking opportunities.

The Provincial Data and Reporting Event hosted by the City of Vaughan was a great place to meet fellow city builders and learn about their initiatives to address the housing crisis by using data.  

From a presentation about Digital Twins, to a lightning talk about planning and housing dashboards, and hearing from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing about Ontario Regulation 73/23, it was a day packed with learning and networking opportunities. 

A highlight video of the Provincial Data and Reporting event.

The event was focused on the role of data in planning and housing, with a focus on data governance, stewardship, and transparency. Attendees saw great examples of how fellow municipalities and regions were using various tools to increase data transparency and create more efficient processes for their City staff.  

After opening remarks from the City of Vaughan and Esri Canada, the City of Ottawa presented their Digital Twin. Using ArcGIS Urban, Ottawa had mapped out their entire city from roads and buildings, to underground transit and infrastructure. It was inspiring to see what the City had done with their data, and how the Digital Twin was helping them plan for the future of their city together with various departments. 

“Humans do not intuitively understand a table that has hubs, corridors, transects, min and max heights. But if we sit down with the planners and if we put that cookbook together, then we can use the programming languages to recreate that model in 3D. We can develop alternate scenarios really quickly by changing the variable.” 
Randal Rodger, Program Manager Geospatial Analytics, Technology and Solution, City of Ottawa 

Following the Digital Twin presentation, there was an update from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) regarding Ontario Regulation 73/23. The MMAH reviewed the progress of the data that had been collected and participants, both virtual and in-person, had the opportunity to ask clarifying questions about the mode of data collection.  

“The goals with implementing this regulation are to close informational gaps and provide our ministry with consistent and accurate data with which we can base future housing and land use policy decisions.”
Scott Sterling, Senior Policy Advisor, Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing 

After lunch, the City of Vaughan and York Region presented their prototype of Community Concierge, a tool for citizen engagement in development approvals, which features maps, dashboards, and input forms. The prototype will help residents and developers navigate the development application process, which will free up municipal planners’ time.  

“Municipalities and regional governments are taking data seriously now. It’s a matter of breaking down the silos and getting people to see the value in collecting better data that will make better decisions collectively.”
Frank Di Palma, CIO, City of Vaughan 


The Town of Oakville demonstrated their Data Hub, which is a data-driven application offering an immersive understanding of town growth to various stakeholders. The dashboards and data hub show how the Town is doing against its housing pledge and council’s KPIs, making their future plans more visible to residents and the province.  

"The big benefit with this entire application was that it made our Amanda data better."  
Frank Goehner, Supervisor Business Solutions and Analytics, Town of Oakville 


The World Council of Data then presented the ISO standardized and globally-verified city data. They announced the newest standard on ESG indicators for cities to drive sustainable finance and investment in affordable housing for cities both in Canada and globally.  

A panel discussion rounded off the afternoon with topics such as the future of planning, the role of data in increasing housing supply, and the importance of metadata in the time of AI. Panelists from Infrastructure Ontario, the Town of Oakville, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario discussed how their organizations are using data to plan for the future and address the housing crisis.  

After closing remarks, many in-person attendees stayed for an impromptu networking session, catching up with colleagues and connecting with their counterparts and peers from other organizations and municipalities.  

The second Provincial Data and Reporting Event was a great success and both in-person and virtual attendees reported enjoying the presentations, lightning talks, and panel discussion. Esri Canada thanks the City of Vaughan for hosting such an incredible event.  

If your city is interested in hosting a similar event, please reach out to Katharine Stanbridge at Esri Canada’s Planning and Housing Division.  

About the Author

Katharine Stanbridge is Manager of Industry Engagement for Esri Canada's Planning and Housing Division. She strives to connect municipalities and housing builders with the tools they need to address the housing crisis. Katharine has a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies from Bishop's University, as well as an extensive background in communications. In her spare time, Katharine likes to cycle, bake and read.

Profile Photo of Katharine Stanbridge