Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet, and consequently a ‘sibling’ of Google’s, just announced plans to transform a 12 acre area of Toronto’s industrial waterfront into a high-tech hub of innovation. A city within a city.
The project is a playground for tech researchers and developers who dream of creating more sustainable, convenient and inclusive communities via smart technologies.
Pitches for new, urban smart concepts include snow-melting roadways, intelligent curbs, smart traffic signals that accommodate slower pedestrians, heated bike lanes, an underground delivery system, movable street furniture, and 1,700 units of affordable housing.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken “glowingly” of the plan, and Sidewalk Labs CEO, Dan Doctoroff, reports, “We think it’s the first true articulation of what’s really possible when you combine cutting-edge innovation and forward-looking urban design…”
The firm has stated that the experimental nature of the proposal merits profit-sharing with the Canadian government, and Sidewalk Labs has offered the government a cut of 10% over the course of 20 years, in relation to the implementation of specific technologies.
As the project proposal took form, Sidewalk Labs connected with 21,000 Torontonians to acquire input, shelling out $50 billion to produce a 1,524 page proposal that has yet to be approved by city planners. The proposal is expected to undergo widespread scrutiny, with data privacy concerns representing a contentious, front runner issue.
Sidewalk Labs is willing to spend $1.3 billion on the project with the intention of “spurring $38 billion in private sector investments by 2040.” A third-party’s analysis suggests that the project could generate as many as 44,000 new jobs, and as much as $4.3 billion in annual tax revenue.
The image below is an artist’s rendering of what the waterfront might look like.
Image courtesy of the New York Times.