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- Wildfires in Canada were caused by record heat and drought. There is no evidence they were set deliberately or linked to efforts to advance "smart cities."
As wildfires have burned around the globe, social media posts claimed they were set to make room for "smart cities."
We rated False "smart cities" claims about Hawaii and the Spanish island of Tenerife, noting that installing these technologies — which collect information to help cities run more efficiently — would not require intentional destruction of existing infrastructure.
But similar claims keep coming, and now a TikTok video shared on Facebook suggests that Canada wildfires were set deliberately to advance the country’s "smart cities" program.
In the video, a woman who used a filter to distort her facial features said the Canada fires happened in communities that had received smart cities funding from the national government, which was not a coincidence. Later in the video, she asks whether the fires are part of a "master plan."
There is no evidence that Canada wildfires were set deliberately or are linked to efforts to create "smart cities." Record heat and drought caused the fires.
Smart cities technology can help improve traffic flow, track gunshots to fight crime or track pollutants to improve air quality. In the U.S., smart cities improvements include adding electric vehicle charging stations, or using sensors, cameras and mobile apps to alert residents to open city parking spaces.
Smart cities have become a target for conspiracy theorists, who falsely claim they are part of a government plan to track residents’ purchases or limit their movements.
In Canada, as the video noted, the government awarded smart cities funds to local and regional governments through a competitive program. But there is no evidence that wildfires were set to further those efforts.
There have been no reports the Canadian wildfires were set intentionally. The government has said the 2023 wildfires, 5,738 in all, have been especially widespread and severe because of continued drought and warmer temperatures.
Reuters reported Aug. 19 that Canadian officials cited drought for the wildfires, which also affected air quality in parts of the U.S. Most of the wildfires are believed to have been caused accidentally by human activity, the report said.
Drought and heat also caused more lightning, which in turn caused some of the fires, CBS News reported.
We rate the claim that the Canada wildfires were intentionally set to advance smart cities plans False.
Facebook, post, Aug. 26, 2023
PolitiFact, "No, Hawaii fires weren’t set intentionally to turn Maui into a ‘smart island,’" Aug. 14, 2023
PolitiFact, "Claim twists U.N. resolution, smart city concept and the Ohio train derailment into baseless plot," Feb. 24, 2023
PolitiFact, "Tenerife wildfire has no connection to smart city concept," Aug. 25, 2023
PolitiFact, "No evidence wildfires in Canada were set intentionally," June 8, 2023
PolitiFact, "Claims connecting arsonists to dozens of recent wildfires in Canada don’t stand up under scrutiny," July 20, 203
Infrastructure Canada, "Smart Cities Challenge," Aug. 26, 2020
Reuters, "Canada wildfires: what are the causes and when will it end?", Aug. 19, 2023
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