Coronavirus: Google ends plans for smart city in Toronto
Coronavirus: Google ends plans for smart city in Toronto. Google’s sister firm Sidewalk Labs has scrapped a plan to build a smart city in Canada, citing complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For several years it had pursued ambitions to build a digital-first city in Toronto “from the internet up”. The project had proved controversial and Sidewalk Labs had already been forced to scale back its ambitions.
“I believe the ideas we have developed over the last two-and-a-half years will represent a meaningful contribution to the work of tackling big urban problems, particularly in the areas of affordability and sustainability.”
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The vision was to have a city full of technology, from autonomous cars to innovative ways of collecting rubbish, and hundreds of sensors collecting data on air quality and the movements of people. Buildings would be sustainable and built in radical new ways, and cycle lanes would be heate.
Privacy and control over one’s digital data is a more mainstream concern than it was just two or three years ago. Ideas that initially seemed futuristic and exciting to many are now being questioned, with politicians around the world more likely to gain support for attacking companies like Google, Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. than they would by embracing them. Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto project.
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In a blog, Dan Doctoroff said the firm continued to invest in start-ups “working on everything from robotic furniture to digital electricity”. “We continue to work internally on factory-made mass timber construction that can improve housing affordability”.
Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, said that while he regrets that Sidewalk Labs had abandoned Quayside, the departure represents a “tremendous new opportunity” to develop the former industrial lands.
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