Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Alphabet Will Turn Toronto Into a Living Laboratory of Urban Design

October 18, 2017

An 800-acre strip of the city’s waterfront may show us how cities of the future will be built.

Alphabet’s urban innovation division, Sidewalk Labs, has announced a project that aims to inject modern urban design and new technologies into the city’s quayside. The aim: to “create people-centered neighbourhoods that achieve precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.”

Huh? Picture streets filled with Waymo robo-taxis, slick autonomous underground trash collection, modular buildings that can be easily expanded, sustainable thermal power generation, drone-based package delivery, pervasive computing, and other techno-utopian amenities that should in theory change the way people live.

An initial trial of such technologies in a 12-acre plot will, says Sidewalk Labs, serve as a model for the whole 800-acre site. It’s not clear just yet how much all of this will cost, or who will pay, though Alphabet is fronting $50 million for initial planning and testing.

Still, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau seems excited about the prospect. In a statement delivered in Toronto’s waterfront district yesterday, he said that the project could turn the area into “a thriving hub for innovation” and “create the good well-paying jobs Canadians need.”

The only snag may be the humans themselves: as we’ve reported in the past, people often do dumb things with smart cities. But, hey, maybe Toronto will be different.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.