This is calledSidewalk TorontoThe project is expected to become a model of urbanization in the 21st century.
Aerial view of Sidewalk Toronto plan
This represents the largest cooperation between a city and a company has also been controversial, especially the company is one of the world's largest technology companies, which caused some anxiety.
Sidewalk Labs is committed to transform this deserted waterfront into a busy mini-city, a city dominated by the Internet. According to Dan Doctoroff, the company’s principal and former deputy mayor of New York, the project aims to “create a healthier, safer, more convenient and more interesting life”.
There will be a large number of sensors in the area to collect data on traffic, noise and air quality, and to monitor the performance of the grid and waste collection.
This raises questions from some people including Denzil Minnan-Wong, the deputy mayor of Toronto, about what data will be collected and where the data will be used.
Sidewalk Labs explained that sensors are not used to monitor and collect citizen information, but are used to give the government flexibility to understand the status of the community, such as providing transit discounts for low-income residents, regulating building temperatures, and preventing trash spills.
David Roberts, a research urbanist at the University of Toronto, said: Is Sidewalk Labs trying to make money by tracking people’s daily interactions? This is absolutely problematic.
The startup is still exploring its business model, but it said it expects to license its technology for Sidewalk Toronto to other cities instead of compiling consumer data and using it for sales advertising.
Mr. Minnan-Wong is concerned that the company is not open enough to the data. "Sidewalk Labs has been talking about open data, but they have not announced their agreement with the waterfront in Toronto since the beginning."
The Toronto Waterfront is an organization responsible for revitalizing the area around the city's ports. Initially, Sidewalk collaborated with the organization on a 12-acre site and later extended to the entire area, covering 325 acres. "I don't understand this is a real estate game, it's still a technology project."
Mariana Valverde, an urban law researcher at the University of Toronto, said in an interview: "Google didn't come to the city in the usual fashion, but has been secretly negotiating with the waterfront in Toronto."
At the same time, there are also government officials who point out potential conflicts between Google’s ambitions and local public regulations, such as the city’s fair procurement policy that does not allow a US company to have any form of monopoly.
Sidewalk Labs has some very radical ideas for this new town, including:
Self-driving cars will become the backbone of neighbourhood traffic; traffic lights will track the flow of pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles; use the concept of "loft" to reimagine the building and expand modular buildings to accommodate growing companies and homes; robots will pass through underground tunnels. Transportation of mail and garbage; control of the climate - In order to encourage citizens to make full use of outdoor space, a retractable plastic canopy will be installed to prevent people from being exposed to rain, as well as sidewalks and bicycle paths that can melt snow.
Modular building, useWooden structureCan flexibly change space according to demand
At the Town Hall meeting, Sidewalk Labs insists that this year will negotiate with city leaders, local policy makers, and the wider community to ensure that Toronto achieves "a meaningful improvement of lives."
Environmental protection has become the top issue on the agenda.
Sidewalk plans to manufacture more environmentally friendly building materials at the factory, thereby reducing the demand for chaotic construction sites, achieving low-cost and rapid construction of residential areas; sensors will help waste sorting and recycling, use anaerobic digestion to compost, and thus reduce landfill. It also plans to help pilots reuse "gray water" - water from bathroom sinks, showers, bathtubs and washing machines.
Mr. Doctoroff is not optimistic about the challenges faced in creating such a city. “The hardest part of this will be a huge gap between innovation and urban integration, urbanism, urban planners, and technical experts. It's very difficult to build a team that can have both.”
One of the mistakes made by the city in the past was to plan something from the top level, but this is not how the city operates - they are organized evolutions.
However, he believes that Sidewalk has a unique positioning. Combining the expertise of Google engineers with government leaders will surely make a difference in urban innovation.
If Sidewalk Toronto succeeds, cities in Canada and elsewhere will have no choice but to emulate it because it will have a huge impact on sustainability and quality of life, at the Ryerson University School of Urban and Regional Planning. Dean Christopher De Sousa said.
The only obstacle may be humanity: People often make stupid things in smart cities.