Google is Hoping to Turn Toronto’s Waterfront into a Digital Community

The Google parent company interested in partnering in the waterfront's redevelopment

Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. has its eyes on Toronto’s waterfront as a potential so-called digital city. Alphabet’s unit Sidewalk Labs, which is dedicated to “reimagining cities from the internet up” has recently applied to create a 12-acre district on the city’s waterfront. Essentially, the Sidewalk Labs has its eyes on urban redevelopment using technology.

Most of the company’s projects are still in the planning stage and much has been kept under wraps, however, the most visible example of Sidewalk’s work is currently the various Wi-Fi kiosks that are distributed throughout New York City, turning NYC into a connected internet hub.

NYC’s Wi-Fi kiosks, however, are apparently only a fraction of the vision that Sidewalk Labs has for major cities. The company hopes to not only provide city-wide Wi-Fi services, but to also use driverless transit and other ride-sharing services beyond Uber to expand a city’s potential.

“I’m sure many of you are thinking this is a crazy idea,” Sidewalk Labs’ Chief Executive Officer Dan Doctoroff said at the Smart Cities NYC conference. “We don’t think it’s crazy at all. People thought it was crazy when Google decided to connect all the world’s information. People thought it was crazy to think about the concept of a self-driving car.”

At the start of 2017, Waterfront Toronto sent out a call for proposals for a new “community” that is to be called Quayside. In its call, the city indicated that Quayside would be “a testbed for emerging technologies, materials and processes that will address these challenges and advance solutions that can be replicated in cities worldwide.” According to the invitation, Waterfront Toronto will be revealing its new development partner in June.

Feature photo courtesy of Moritz Lino via Flickr.