A “Smart” City within a City
“Quayside” – A Futuristic Neighborhood
Sidewalk Labs is setting out to tackle a new futuristic neighborhood in Toronto, Canada. Being the first of its kind in the United States, Quayside will be the prototype of a small-scale smart city.
Who is Sidewalk Labs?
Sidewalk Labs is a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. which is a multinational conglomerate located in California. Google and various other companies were created under Alphabet, Inc.
Sidewalk Labs can best be described as a company that has the vision and imagination to create unique urban innovation. They not only dream it, but they build it!
The “Smart City” within a City
Sidewalk Labs is transforming a section of Toronto, Canada on the waterfront into one of the world’s first smart city. This futuristic urban innovation is called “Quayside.”
Quayside is a twelve-acre plot that is expected to provide enough housing for five thousand residents with the opportunity to expand for up to tens of thousands of residents. The parcel of land that Quayside occupies was once a site that many Torontonians describe as blighted.
The first phase of planning will be at the cost of fifty million. Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto (a development agency in Toronto) are working together to plan and deploy various technologies in Quayside. If this prototype is successful, other cities will emulate the technology because of the sustainability and quality of living.
The Vision for Quayside
Sidewalk Labs is excited with bringing their vision to fruition. This will be a place where shuttle buses will be driverless, robots will deliver the mail, garbage will be removed through underground tunnels, and buildings will be modular to allow expansion as the smart city grows. Sidewalk Labs will design narrow lanes for travel to provide more room for pedestrian traffic.
Having driverless cars and buses provides the precise automated navigation that is key to having traffic laws obeyed continually. Human drivers tend to break the traffic laws which causes vehicle accidents and deaths. Automated travel reduces that significantly.
A monitoring system will be in place that not only senses human activity but monitors everything as a whole. This system provides information on pedestrians crossing streets where perhaps a driverless bus is traveling. The system informs the bus and tells the lights and signals to yield for the pedestrian.
The “Smart City” Concept
Sidewalk Labs has approached this whole urban innovation concept as being similar to a smartphone. Their company will be the platform which will provide the software required for the “smart city” to operate efficiently.
A significant portion of the work on Quayside will involve third-party software developers to contribute to the project. Once such third party would be the driverless vehicle maker, Waymo. Waymo is an independent self-driving company that develops the technology to provide driverless vehicles.
Winning the Public Over
Not everyone is open to what this project has to offer. Technology can be intimidating, and skeptics have to see it to believe it. Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto held a town hall meeting last year where dialogue was exchanged between residents, project managers, and city officials.
The biggest hurdle for Sidewalk Labs to tackle is skepticism of the intensive data-gathering. Residents are concerned about how their data will be shared.
“With these folks, what’s intriguing is the sky’s the limit in terms of their imagination, the scale they dream at, and the resources they have at their fingertips.” – Sidewalk Labs spokesperson
The “Proof’s in the Pudding”
Many stand behind the belief that there needs to be a balance between human intelligence and artificial intelligence. Relying on technology to transport you safely or to safely guide you to cross a street is something new for our culture to accept.
Seeing innovation in action helps us to be more open and forward-thinking as technology advances to better our lives.