Toronto Bayfront to Become 'Smart City' using Google Tech

John Lister's picture

Google's sister company is to build a mini-city in Toronto that includes a range of technologies built into the infrastructure. It's designed partly to help locals and partly as a test bed for new technology.

The 68-acre project on the Lake Toronto waterfront is led by Sidewalk Labs - a spin-off company that's owned by Google's parent company Alphabet. It's a partnership with the city and won't involve Google owning any land or acting as a landlord, though Google will move its Canadian headquarters to the area. It'll be part of a wider regeneration project covering 800 acres.

Free Public WiFi On Offer

Sidewalk Labs will be responsible for supplying and installing around $50 million worth of technology. Precise details are yet to be confirmed, but it's likely to include free high-speed public WiFi. (Source:

The company has previously launched a program in New York City to replace outdated telephone booths with WiFi points that include touch screens for access by people without their own devices. The project is funded by digital advertising screens on the outside of the booths. While the project has largely been successful to date, it did have some teething problems with users inappropriately enjoying inappropriate websites.

Traffic Data Analyzed In Real Time

Other technologies in Toronto could include sustainable energy and special lanes for self-driving cars. It's also likely Sidewalk will install sensors throughout the city that help local government officials gather data. For example, officials may be able to track traffic flows and use the information to plan public transit routes or change traffic flows to deal with bottlenecks.

The information could also be made available to drivers, for example to let them check live parking availability when commuting into the area. Sidewalk also says it would make data available to private taxi and 'rideshare' services to promote competition. (Source:

Another idea is to use autonomous vehicles to collect and empty dumpsters around the mini-city. This could involve using sensors to plan more efficient routes that don't empty dumpsters when they are barely full, but don't leave it so long that they overflow.

It will be at least a year before construction work as Sidewalk plans to run a lengthy consultation process to try to get locals on board with the idea.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you want to live or work in such an area? What other technologies would you like to see tried out? Do the benefits outweigh any risks in letting a private company operate the technology?

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