Sidewalk Labs, a unit of Alphabet, Inc., a parent company of Google, will be the first company to start testing a smart city project in Toronto in 2020. The company will be initiating testing of some of the technologies this summer.
This is probably the first time that a concrete timeline has been disclosed in public for a specific project that is said to increase land efficiency, reduce costs, and conserve energy in Toronto. Toronto is said to be one of the world’s most expensive housing markets, and there is a constant struggle when it comes to development due to a rampant rise in population.
In March of 2017, Waterfront Toronto, a government-backed agency, had requested for proposals to develop an environmentally friendly area of 12 acres to create more jobs and, at the same time, be affordable for people of all ages. This was part of the first phase of a planned revamp of 800 acres of industrial wasteland, which was towards the east of downtown on Lake Ontario.
Sidewalk Labs was the selected company because it included factors such as autonomous vehicles, a thermal grid that does not use fossil fuels, and, most importantly, low-cost modular buildings combined with robotic delivery and waste management systems. After a hectic search across Australia, North America, and Europe, the company finally zeroed into Toronto to build the smart city.
By the end of 2018, the boards of Sidewalk and Waterfront will agree to a development plan, and the first set of citizens could move in as early as 2022, as confirmed by CEO Dan Doctoroff.
Doctoroff said, “Quayside will be a prototype for a broader opportunity. What we’re trying to do, no one has really succeeded in doing. Thus far, I’ve been thrilled with the way things have gone … but I’m not sanguine about the challenges.”
There has been a growing concern about corporate access to personal information. The same has been faced by Sidewalk Labs over its plans, and hence they have decided to put sensors and cameras all over Quayside.
Doctoroff reiterated that Sidewalk Labs would destroy non-essential information, only retain data that would improve the quality of life, and not sell them to advertisers.