Alphabet Inc. Is Building A City Out Of Data

Alphabet Inc. Is Building A City Out Of Data
Design

Sidewalk Toronto will be the first real-world attempt by Google's parent company to optimize city life

Leo Lutero
  • 23 october 2017

Waterfront Toronto, a district established in the city in 2001, will be the site of the first Sidewalk Labs city. Sidewalk Labs is the urban planning arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. This means the streets of Waterfront Toronto will soon be filled with sensors and the city will continuously evolve into different forms moulded primarily by data streams.

The project, also called Sidewalk Toronto, will more or less be Alphabet’s playground where it can put together the city of its dreams. For mobility, Wired reports that Sidewalk Labs will be tapping Waymo, the autonomous vehicles arm of Alphabet, to fill the streets of Waterfront Toronto with self-driving carriages.

Sidewalk Toronto will be a self-contained community, with ample residential quarters, offices and commercial spaces. The 3.3 million square feet of development will begin near the water at Quayside. This area will be the proof of concept and when successful, Sidewalk Toronto will expand to other areas of the city. Excitement for the future isn’t just from Alphabet. The Canadian government has earmarked $1.25 billion CAD toward the construction of flood control facilities and other critical infrastructure for the district. Sidewalk Labs has volunteered $50 million.

Sidewalk Labs has already identified a few key problems in urban housing it wants to solve. This includes affordability, energy efficiency and transportation. For affordability, its phrase “adaptable buildings” hints towards buildings that are multi-purpose and can change according to need. Innovative construction methods can also lower the cost of housing in Quayside and counter the rise of housing prices in the city.

This data-driven approach to urban planning will finally be tested at scale. Waterfront Toronto can either be a model or a lesson for the future’s smarter cities. The team on the project has scheduled a town hall meeting on November 1 to discuss its plans with the community.

Sidewalk Toronto

Waterfront Toronto, a district established in the city in 2001, will be the site of the first Sidewalk Labs city. Sidewalk Labs is the urban planning arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. This means the streets of Waterfront Toronto will soon be filled with sensors and the city will continuously evolve into different forms moulded primarily by data streams.

+alphabet
+Architecture
+Automotive
+autonomous vehicles
+Canada
+cities
+Cities
+data
+Design
+Google
+technology
+Toronto
+urban planning
+waymo
+Wired

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