Alphabet to build futuristic district in Toronto as a model for smart cities

Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs aims to improve the quality of life in urban environments by developing a neighbourhood that can create and test smart city technologies

  • By Luján Scarpinelli | Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

The Quayside project aims to make Toronto a modern, connected and diverse city

On October 17, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced plans to build a futuristic city in Toronto’s waterfront area, with the ultimate aim of developing smart city technologies.

The smart neighbourhood project, named ‘Quayside’, will be carried out by Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs, which will work in collaboration with government-backed agency Waterfront Toronto. The former has committed $50m to the initial phase of the project, although The Wall Street Journal estimates the total spend is likely to reach $1bn.

The plan comes at a time when cities around the world are looking for solutions to challenges such as pollution, transportation and housing, and aims to make Toronto a “modern, connected and diverse global city”.

The Quayside plan comes at a time when cities around the world are looking for solutions to challenges such as pollution, transportation and housing

Speaking at the launch, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed Quayside will occupy 325 hectares of underdeveloped land in the southeast of Downtown Toronto. In Trudeau’s words, the district will be “a thriving hub for innovation and create the good well-paying jobs Canadians need”.

As stated on Sidewalk Lab’s website, the city “will combine forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create people-centred neighbourhoods that achieve precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility and economic opportunity”. These new digital technologies will foster driverless vehicles, sustainable buildings and clean energy generation.

Naturally, the first company moving to Quayside will be Google, but the technology giant could soon be joined by Amazon, with Toronto among the cities vying to be the home of the company’s second North American headquarters.