Sidewalk Labs to Turn Part of Toronto into a Model Smart City

Toronto, like other major North American cities like New York and San Fransisco, has a huge number of different cultures and is a magnet for people from all over the world. The popularity of this multicultural city brings a unique set of challenges. How do you deal with rent increases, rapid growth and expansion, new sustainable development, and the integration of new technologies all at the same time? 

Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs have partnered to build a mixed-use, complete community in Toronto to chart a new model for how leaders in the public and private sector think about building cities in the 21st century. According to the Sidewalk Labs press release

The district will become a place for tens of thousands of people to live, work, learn, and play—and to create and advance new ideas that improve city life, from climate-positive energy systems that can deliver a new standard in sustainability, to self-driving transit that makes streets safer, to new construction techniques that can lower housing costs. It will also refect the cultural diversity and openness of Toronto, and help connect all Torontonians to waterfront beaches, parks, and communities.

Google will be the flagship tenant for the new neighborhood, anchoring the eastern waterfront, which will be called “Quayside.” Sidewalk Labs has committed $50 million to kick off pilot testing and planning in partnership with the City of Toronto.

The entire project is built on the idea of bringing together urban planning, community, and technology. Technologists want to scale fast. Urbanists know things take time and intense deliberation. The goal of Sidewalk Labs is to force these two groups to converge. 

Register for our Urban Tech Summit where Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, will give the keynote address. 

The Vision for Toronto: 

  • The project will kick off with an initial 12 acres, but the RFP of total work includes 800 acres in total. This makes it one of the largest underdeveloped tracts of land in any major American city. 
  • Google will relocate its Canadian headquarters to this area, bringing around 300 employees
  • $1.25 billion will be invested by the city to create new infrastructure will be built to prevent flooding and to create roads. 
  • The next year will be devoted to extensive community and stakeholder consultation and long range planning 

More About Sidewalk Labs

Sidewalk Labs was created to explore how new technologies can solve big urban challenges and improve quality of life in cities. Its unique team combines the urbanists who led New York City’s post-9/11 revival with the technologists who made Google one of the world’s most innovative companies. We believe in the power of emerging digital tools to help enhance social interaction and create people-centred cities, but we also bring a deep belief in the power of community plans, public input, and open collaboration—values forged by decades of experience working in local government.

Before forming Sidewalk, members of its team created an ambitious economic plan that helped catalyze New York City’s comeback, creating new neighborhoods, parks, and public spaces, including the High Line. They designed PlaNYC, the pioneering citywide sustainability plan that made New York City a leader in fighting climate change. They also helped jumpstart New York City’s now booming tech ecosystem by opening Google’s first engineering office outside Silicon Valley and leading the creation of Cornell Tech, a new academic campus focused on technology and entrepreneurship.

Since Sidewalk’s launch in 2015, its portfolio company Intersection has created the world’s fastest and largest free public Wi-Fi network, LinkNYC, bringing super-fast connectivity to millions of New Yorkers and visitors. The Link system has since spread to London will come to other U.K. cities. Sidewalk has also incubated Flow, a company that uses data to enable new urban mobility services and solutions; Cityblock, a company that aims to improve healthcare services for underserved urban populations; as well as initiatives focused on planning data, intersection safety, and park improvements.

Charles LaCalleurbantech