WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs is set to construct a future city in Toronto, Canada.
- The digital city will be built in Quayside and will be known as Sidewalk Toronto.
- Google, also owned by Alphabet, will relocate its Canadian headquarters to the redeveloped site.
Alphabet’s future city will be erected at the Quayside area in Toronto. Its objective is to turn the waterfront area into a high-tech neighborhood with a range of “smart” technology.
Features that the future city will likely to offer are fast wi-fi availability, sustainable energy, countless sensors, and self-driving vehicles.
Many tech companies are already promoting their hardware and software while urban planners address issues of pollution, congestion and overcrowding.
Urban planning expert Robert Puentes said that partnerships between public and private companies could bring benefits. But he also warned cities that they need to be sure about what they will be getting out of the deal.
“Cities are trying everything they can to boost their economies and build infrastructure, but they have to realize that companies are not doing it for altruistic reasons – they are interested in generating profit for their shareholders,” Puentes said.
“Cities need a clear vision of what they want to achieve, and they shouldn’t expect the private sector to do the job for them.”
The 800-acre Quayside area in Toronto is one of the largest underdeveloped urban areas in North America.
The ‘future city’ project was welcomed by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
“This will create a test bed for new technologies in Quayside,” he said. “Technologies that will help us build smarter, greener, more inclusive cities—which we hope to see scale across Toronto’s eastern waterfront and eventually in other parts of Canada and around the world.”
Sidewalk Labs chief executive Dan Doctoroff, said: “We believe Sidewalk Toronto can demonstrate to the world how to make living in cities cheaper, more convenient, healthier, greener, fairer, and even maybe more exciting.” Doctoroff is a former New York Deputy Mayor.
Sidewalk Labs has pledged $50m (£37m) to create the high-tech project.
Meanwhile, New York-based Sidewalk Labs has already begun its “smart” projects in U.S. cities. It aims to provide fast wi-fi across New York city using old payphones. But its primary goal has always been to create a futuristic city.
Doctoroff told The Star that “If Amazon sees what we see in Toronto, they should be coming here.”