Smart City: Sidewalk Toronto Developing In Quayside

Sep 14 2018

With technology advancing and society beginning to adopt new, innovative technology in nearly every aspect of their lives, it’s only a matter of time before our cities become so advanced that they can truly be called ‘Smart Cities’. With this being said, alongside the government, Sidewalk Labs, a Google-affiliated company, has set out to create a Smart Neighbourhood known as Sidewalk Toronto in Toronto, Ontario. Specifically in the Waterfront community, known as Quayside (located at Parliament Slip, southeast of Downtown Toronto). Essentially, taking their knowledge and expertise in technology to improve the experience of pedestrians.

What Is A Smart Neighbourhood?

A smart neighbourhood is just that, a community that is smart. Or more specific, a community that embodies technology and innovation at its core to better the experience of those within it. In regards to the neighbourhood Sidewalk Toronto, that Sidewalk Labs is planning to design in Quayside, it will embody futuristic aspects such as intelligent traffic lights that adjust to traffic flow, modular heated paths to make travelling in winter months more enjoyable, spaces for businesses, and 30 storey buildings that will provide shelter from the elements. All of these innovative features will use pedestrian data to improve the public experience. In conclusion, a smart neighbourhood and in this case Sidewalk Toronto, will combine cutting-edge innovation with great urban design to help people’s lives. At the moment and in reference to the waterfront community, the parties involved are working together to create a design and reach an agreement to begin construction in 2020 hopefully.

The Benefits SideWalk Toronto Can Bring

There are many benefits that Sidewalk Toronto could bring. The most obvious one is how it can put Toronto at the forefront of innovation and city design. Allowing for other major cities to closely watch to hopefully gain insight about mimicking neighbours similar to the waterfront community in cities of their own.

Other benefits focus on the user experience of those within the space. Essentially using data and technology to make their experience residing, shopping or walking in the area more enjoyable. This focuses on how the space will allow pedestrians to be outside without having to necessarily face harsh weather conditions, as well as allowing it to be easier to commute on the streets. It as well is expected that the emerging technologies being used can allow Sidewalk Toronto to be more environmentally sustainable. Essentially, using the space, more efficiently and effectively, to make a better, urban environment. 

Last, and if the project can abide to maintain the agreed upon amount of how 20% of the land will be dedicated to affordable housing, will help to make Toronto (one of the least affordable cities to live), slightly more affordable and prove that affordable housing can in fact, be attractive.

As development plans are always changing, up-to-date information can be found on Sidewalk Toronto’s website:

Sidewalk Toronto Concerns

While there are many benefits and many are excited to see more proposed plans for Sidewalk Toronto, there are still some concerns. Concerns explicitly that surround data and how the public’s personal information will be used. While it has been noted that the data that is gathered by the neighbourhood and company will not be sold to advertisers and will not be commercialized, some are still hesitant about the privacy and responsibility of who owns the data. It was noted that the protection of privacy and careful management of data is fundamental to the development of this smart city, and it is expected that others around the world will follow their data management ethics. 

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