Technology 4 min read

Sorry Americans, Future City Quayside to be Built by Alphabet in Canada

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Reports are now out that Canada will be the next location for a future city that will be built by one of Alphabet’s subsidiary companies.

The concept of the future city, or smart city, is nothing new. In fact, Dubai has been very vocal about its plans of being the first smart city in the world. However, things might just change now that Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet‘s urban innovation company announced their next city-building venture in Toronto.

Early this month, a report from The Wall Street Journal said that the New York-based Alphabet subsidiary was nearing completion of a deal to develop a waterfront portion of Toronto. The alleged digital city will be located along a 12-acre section of the eastern side of the city.

The project, dubbed as Quayside was estimated to cost over $1 billion USD based on the construction cost of other existing projects today.

Back then, full details of the plan were not divulged since the agreement was still waiting for the approval of the Waterfront Toronto Board, the agency tasked with the city of Toronto’s development along the shore of Lake Ontario.

Fortunately for Sidewalk Labs, the deal has finally been sealed!

@sidewalklabs just sealed the deal for its #FutureCity in Toronto, Canada!Click To Tweet

On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the top executives from Alphabet to announce the deal, which will include a $50 million (not cited if the amount is in US or Canadian dollars) commitment from Sidewalk Labs for the installation and testing of the company’s smart city technology. In a statement, Trudeau was quoted as saying:

“Today’s announcement is about creating a new type of neighborhood that puts people first. 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.”

Future City: Alphabet’s Version of Tomorrowland

The term future city is reminiscent of the 2015 American sci-fi film Tomorrowland.

There are flying cars, jetpacks found here and there, floating swimming pools, and people with IQs that would make Albert Einstein look average. Is that the kind of future city that Sidewalk Labs would build?

Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, no. While our current urban technologies are already impressive, we’re still away by a long shot from building such smart city.

Sidewalk Labs' future city vision
Sidewalk Labs’ future city vision | Sidewalk Labs

For now, Sidewalk Labs’ plan for its future city includes the reduction of pollution, commute times, and landfill waste to improve the weather. The company “envisions reducing the impact of wind, increasing shade on sunny days and blocking rain due to smart building design and tree planting,” according to a story published by CNN.

Sidewalk Labs' future city housing vision
Sidewalk Labs’ future city housing vision | Sidewalk Labs

In its proposal, Sidewalk Labs promised to make the weather more comfortable to ensure that the waterfront would be more enjoyable. The company believes that it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 73%, potable water consumption by 65%, and landfill waste generation by up to 90%.

Sidewalk Labs' future city digital infrastructure vision
Sidewalk Labs’ future city digital infrastructure vision | Sidewalk Labs

In addition to that, the future city would prioritize walking, cycling, and shared electrical vehicles as its mode of transportation. Zoning would also be flexible to allow for a blend of land use for residential, commercial, and others.

Eric Schmidt, Alphabet Chairman, said at a news conference:

“This is not some random activity from our perspective. This is the culmination of 10 years of thinking about how technology can improve the quality of people’s lives.”

The company said that it would hold a town hall on November 1st to kick off a year-long community outreach process to address any objections resulting from the future city project.

Describing the smart city, Sidewalk Labs said that it would be built from the ‘internet up’ instead of the usual from the ‘ground up.’ Other things that people are now hoping to be included in the city are:

  • high-speed communication network
  • long-range, low-bandwidth Internet connectivity
  • lanes for self-driving cars
  • more public WIFI hubs
  • clean energy production and recycling systems

What’s your idea of a future city or smart city? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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