Under Development: Google's Future City in Toronto

This article was written in September 2017.

Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs has signed a Waterfront Tront, joint venture composed by the Canadian federal government, the Ontario government, and the city of Toronto over the development of the eastern waterfront district of Toronto. Sidewalk Labs will begin development of 12 acres of waterfront area (about 4 hectares). This 4 hectare is a pilot and the project says it can extend up to about 324 hectares, including the area shown in the picture below. The development area is the largest undeveloped area in North America.

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Quoting the vision stated by Sidewalk Toronto.

The Eastern Waterfront will be a new type of place that combines the best in urban design with the latest in digital technology to address some of the biggest challenges facing cities, including energy use, housing affordability, and transportation.

It will be a place that embraces adaptable buildings and new construction methods to make housing and retail space more affordable. A place where people-centred street designs and a range of transportation options make getting around more affordable, safe, and convenient than the private car. A place that encourages innovation around energy, waste, and other environmental challenges to protect the planet. A place where public spaces welcome families to enjoy the outdoors all day and all night and where community ties are strong. A place that’s enhanced by digital technology and data, without giving up the privacy and security that everyone deserves.

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2. Efficient Transportation System

It is thought that private cars are not used for transportation.

  • Autonomous shuttle bus
  • Signal that senses pedestrians and changes autonomously
  • Underground tunnel for transportation of autonomous logistic vehicles

Sidewalk Labs seems to aim for achieving the movement of people and goods without loss in the city. It consolidate electric wires and water pipes under the basement and secure a route for autonomous logistic vehicles. This will improve the landscape on the ground and improve the efficiency of urban infrastructure.


3. Low-priced homes and shop house adapted for various use case

Real estate prices has been rising in the urban area of US. There are big hurdles for middle and low incomes to buy house. If urban planners can decide on the design of houses, construction methods, etc., city can create much better housing condition that meet the need of people.


4. Develop city as software and leverage of sensor data

According to the plan of Sidewalk, it seems to attach a sensor to everything in the city such as park bench, wasteful bin, the source of noise, etc. People can always use the ultra high speed internet. The data brought by every sensor may allow for real time updating of city. You should be able to draw long-term urban development images from result of data analytics. The plan describes that "we will not give up on privacy and security" to achieve these.


5. power generation in the city and democratization of medical treatment

The project would be a pioneer of thermal grid, electricity generation in middle of city, and medical facilities available immediately. The project has Vision that the community of residents has a deep connection each other, based on the problems the US has.


6. Silicon Valley in Canada

Alphabet's Canadian headquarters is also committed to relocate to this district. Toronto succeeded to invite huge companies as Toronto. Since the inauguration of Donald Trump 's president, the United States has had a difficult situation to receive immigrants. Toronto University is one of the epicenter of recent artificial intelligence breakthrough. Alphabet acquiring ML company founded by Jeffrey Hinton of Toronto University (He is also fellow in Google). Toronto's position will rise relatively because tech companies prefer ”future city”.