Problems give rise to demands, and demands initiate action that leads to the solution. Some such public demands are the problems of transport and clean environment, the problem of housing and health facilities. As put by Jesse Shapins, the director of public realm at the Canadian unit of Alphabet Inc, Sidewalk Labs’s, “Torontonians want more affordable housing, faster ways to get around the city, safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists, and a cleaner and healthier environment.”
Addressing this problem of municipal management with smart technological solutions, Google’s urban innovation lab has announced redevelopment plans for Toronto’s Quayside. They are using Sidewalk Labs as their primary platform for planning and feasible implementation of their ideas.
Commenting on the nature of the smart city under development, Jesse Shapins “What we’re planning here is neither cheerful science fiction — like The Jetsons — nor dark and dystopian — like Black Mirror.” So it is made very clear that the objective of this project to improve the services provided to the general public and unnecessary glamour is certainly not a priority of the project.
An interesting note of the mention of Black Mirror – the infamous science fiction show that depicts the dark criminal aspects of technological advancement on human life, by the director of Sidewalk Labs is likely due to the change of policy of the project following last fall. Toronto’s smart city plan was opposed due to privacy concerns surrounding the possibilities of wide-scale smart surveillance. Sidewalk Labs’s new plan for the smart city proposes the use of an independent Civic Data Trust – ensuring that, “no one has a right to own information collected from Quayside including Sidewalk Labs.”
Google’s model for city wide transport is of particular interest as they plan to improve transport systems by completely eliminating private cars. Instead, “mobility system that is safer and more convenient than the private car at much lower cost” is under development. Google intends to achieve this with “taxibots.”
Sidewalk Labs’s “Master Innovation and Development Plan” is set to be reviewed by Waterfront Toronto, the municipality, different government and legal authorities before it is implemented practically in any capacity. Not only that, the design and idea is also to be reviewed by the general public of Toronto at an event that is to be held in the city on 8th of December.
With their enthusiastic remarks like, “No, it’s not The Jetsons, but something much better,” Sidewalk Labs is ready to make their project relatable and useful to the Canadian people as they promise to develop their construction with Canadian timber.