Google sister company to help build high tech community on Toronto waterfront

Frederick Owens
October 19, 2017

Alphabet has also pledged to relocate Google's headquarters in Canada to the new neighborhood, called Quayside, which is on the Toronto waterfront.

Check out the Sidewalk Labs vision for Toronto's Eastern Waterfront below.

Sidewalk Labs, the smart city subsidiary of Alphabet with the stated goal of "reimagining cities from the Internet up", now has a very big sandbox in which to conduct its high-tech experiments.

Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt made the announcement alongside Dan Doctoroff, chief executive of Sidewalk Labs.

Schmidt said that "we are making a bold bet that innovation technology and forward-thinking urban design can make fundamental improvements in city life". "Toronto is the ideal place for Alphabet and Sidewalk Labs to do something impactful that we hope will foster new ideas that can be applied by cities around the world".

"A world leader in urban innovation, Sidewalk Labs will create a testbed for new technologies in Quayside".

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The project will provide Canadian innovators with opportunities to create thousands of middle-class jobs, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Sidewalk Labs, which built a large free Wi-Fi network in NY called LinkNYC, won a bid with Waterfront Toronto to help design a neighborhood named Quayside, on a corner of port land southeast of downtown. "On behalf of our Faculty, I would like to welcome Sidewalk Labs to the neighbourhood". Or as Sidewalk Labs puts it, because "k$3 nowing that great neighbourhoods aren't planned from the top down". Complete with waterfront beaches, parks and open public spaces, the community will also be a place for families to enjoy year-round.

The only snag may be the humans: as we've said in the past, people can do dumb things with smart cities.

Toronto Mayor John Tory at Tuesday's Sidewalk Toronto announcement.

The statement says the partners will embark on a process of community and stakeholder consultation and long-range planning in the next year, "focused on improving infrastructure and transportation systems, creating new models of affordable housing and flexible retail uses, and establishing clear governance policies related to data protection and privacy".

The project is expected to be used as a test case to help motivate other cities in other countries to develop similar assets that are technologically advanced, yet sustainable and affordable enough to be of practical value.

Still, both the administration of Toronto Mayor John Tory and Sidewalk are optimistic, and look forward to their first meeting with residents to discuss next steps on November 1.

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