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article imageToronto could become home to world's first 'smart city'

By James Walker     Oct 6, 2017 in Technology
Toronto could become the home of a pioneering smart neighbourhood under plans drawn up by Alphabet firm Sidewalk Labs. The urban development would prioritise emerging tech and connected infrastructure, becoming a testing ground for future cities.
Alphabet first applied to develop the 12-acres of land in downtown Toronto back in May. According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Alphabet now intends Sidewalk Labs to make Toronto its main headquarters. It will use the plot to build a tech-centric neighbourhood called Quayside.
Sidewalk Labs is pushing towards making futuristic city concepts a reality. Its ideas employ automation, IoT sensors and constant connectivity to create a smarter urban environment that runs more efficiently. Quayside will act as a giant demonstration of the company's aims, offering a glimpse into the city of tomorrow.
Approval for the project could be issued by Toronto authorities as early as this month. If it is given the go-ahead, Sidewalk Labs will start by building a 3 million-square-foot operations hub that could cost over $1 billion. The investment will transform Toronto's waterfront into a pioneering "smart district" used to demonstrate urban technologies to global city planners.
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Sidewalk Labs claims that smart cities could the quality of life for occupants by offering more efficient transport, greater connectivity and flexible infrastructure. Sensors that track the flow of people and traffic would help to reduce some of the biggest issues with regular city living.
Autonomous vehicles would form the mobility backbone for the area, offering robotic delivery and ride-hailing services. Residents of Quayside will be some of the first to experience these assistive technologies, becoming part of a pilot program for the future of living.
Alphabet's not the only firm interested in Toronto's waterfront project. The WSJ said it's currently the "most compelling" bidder and is likely to have its plans approved. The winning applicant must use the 12-acre site as "a testbed for emerging technologies" that could be utilised in cities across the world.
Toronto's city authorities want the area to act as a global example of urban digital transformation. It's part of Canada's wider push towards embracing digital disruption. The country's readiness to accept the smart world of the future has already made it the go-to destination for pioneering machine learning research. Now it wants to become home to top smart city trials too, creating a showcase environment that unites autonomy, IoT and sustainability.
More about Google, sidewalk labs, digital transformation, connectivity, Urban