Smart cities will soon have a real test model to for references and leads in the near future: Toronto. Specifically, the Quayside neighborhood on the east waterfront of the city by Lake Ontario. This past Thursday Google’s parent company Alphabet announced its Sidewalk Lab will take control of roughly 12 acres of land to build afunctional prototype for the city of the future.
“This project will become a model for others not only in Canada, but around the world,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the press conference last Thursday. Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Toronto’s Mayor John Tory, and Waterfront Toronto Board Chair Helen Burstyn also took part in the presentation.
Ambitious plans to build a prototype city include connecting the public transportation system and private mobility with Internet of Things (IoT) to provide real time information for self-driving cars, and public transportation that optimizes time for commuters. Also, a more flexible zoning is needed to allow a blend of land use of residential and commercial purposes. Sidewalk Labs believes it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 73%, landfill waste generation up to 90%, and potable water consumption by 65% with the help of a spectrum of technology that runs from IoT to AI.
In April of 2016, the Denver and Detroit areas were frontrunners for the first Sidewalk Lab test sites, but Google’s commitment to Toronto is loud and clear. As part of the creation of the Quayside, the company will relocate his headquarters in Canada to the new neighborhood with all 1,000 employees in the country.
The first stage of the process will involve a series of studies and townhall meetings aimed toward planning and pilot testing innovations championed by Sidewalk Labs. As part of this first stage of “Sidewalk Toronto”, as Sidewalk Labs is labeling the program, Google’s company pledged $50 million.
“This is not some random activity, from our perspective. This is the culmination of ten years of thinking about how technology can improve the quality of people’s lives,” said Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt to CNN.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the deal between Toronto and Google, Sidewalk Toronto will cost up to $1 billion. Funding will be used to fulfill its promise of new public spaces and advanced infrastructure.
“Working together with local community, Sidewalk Toronto aspires to create a place that encourages innovation around energy, waste, and other environmental challenges to protect the planet. A place that is enhanced digital technology and data without giving out privacy and security that everyone deserves,” the company said in a press release.