Google to Build "Future City" in Toronto

Sidewalk Labs future city digital infrastructure vision

Google, a company that's built everything from a search engine to a self-driving vehicle, will now try its hand at a city neighborhood.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Sidewalk Labs announced plans to transform an area along Toronto's waterfront into a technologically advanced neighborhood they're calling Quayside.

Sidewalk Labs has invested $50 million United States dollars (£37.8 million) for the initial phase of the project, for which they plan to consult the local community during development.

Sidewalk Labs hopes to reduce pollution and impact of wind by increasing shade on sunny days and blocking rain by using smart building design and tree planting. Infrastructure will also be designed for different weather conditions so that public spaces can be kept open all year round, and offer a better connection to Toronto's waterfront, beaches and parks.

Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto envision that the area will attract similar forward-thinking companies that will promote Toronto as a tech hub. It also believes it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 73%, potable water consumption by 65% and landfill waste generation by 90%. There would be more flexibility in zoning to allow for a blend of land use for residential, commercial and other uses.

Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of the Google holding company Alphabet, committed $50m for the initial stages of the project alongside a recent $1.25bn CAD investment by federal, provincial and municipal governments to Waterfront Toronto.

In their RFP submission, Sidewalks Labs said "outmoded" and "static" regulation was a barrier to innovation in city building that would require "substantial forbearances from existing laws and regulations", for the success of project. There will be high-speed communication networks, as well as long-range, low-bandwidth connectivity.

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