Sidewalk Labs, owned by Google’s parent Alphabet, is to build a digital city in Toronto.
Alphabet won the contract to develop a 12-acre (522,720 square feet) site named Quayside on the waterfront of Lake Ontario. The project is funded by Waterfront Toronto, a public agency backed by the federal, provincial, and city governments.
With the aim of building a livable space from the ground up using innovations in construction techniques, Sidewalk Labs has committed US$50 million to kick off pilot testing and planning.
Google will relocate its Canadian headquarters and about 300 employees to its new anchor office in the district.
The smart city designed by Google is likely to include features such as LinkNYC, the public Wi-Fi hubs installed around New York City, and dedicated lanes for self-driving cars.
In March, Sidewalk Labs launched a new product named Flow, which it described as a “transportation platform” that uses aggregated, anonymous traffic data to help city managers identify bottlenecks or redirect trains and buses to transit-starved neighborhoods. Drivers get real-time parking information during their commutes.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that Sidewalk Toronto will “transform Quayside into a thriving hub for innovation and a community for tens of thousands of people to live, work, and play”.
Former New York deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff, chief executive of Sidewalk Labs, said Sidewalk Toronto can “demonstrate to the world how to make living in cities cheaper, more convenient, healthier, greener, fairer, and even maybe more exciting”.
Sidewalk Labs will not acquire land along Toronto’s waterfront, nor would it be the landlord to any residents that eventually settle there.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 19
Translation by Ben Ng
[Chinese version 中文版]
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