Sidewalk Labs to Test Quayside Smart Tech This Summer

Toronto’s advanced smart neighbourhood may be coming sooner than expected.

Quayside, the project from the Google-owned Sidewalk Labs, may begin testing technology for the project as soon as summer 2018—and breaking ground in 2020. This follows a timeline Sidewalk Labs’ CEO Dan Doctoroff set out in late 2017.

The company will lease a waterfront office this summer to demonstrate some of the Quayside technologies.

The ambitious project will see Sidewalk Labs collaborate with Waterfront Toronto to develop a 12-acre parcel of land into a modern smart-neighbourhood. The Google subsidiary applied for the project in march 2017 and announced they had been selected later in October. The idea is to foster innovation, create jobs, and mark Toronto as a cutting-edge city at the forefront of technological change.

The 12-acre area is actually the first part of a planned revitalization that could end up seeing over 800 acres of downtown land converted into a smart area.

A vision of what Sidewalk Labs' Quayside area may look like.
A vision of what Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside area may look like.

It’s unclear what kinds of testing will happen during this or upcoming summers, but the original proposal by Sidewalk Labs included plans of autonomous vehicles, an upgraded thermal grid that does not rely on fossil fuels, low-cost modular buildings, and new ways to manage waste using robots and other machinery.

A development plan is expected to be approved by both SIdewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto by the end of this year, and Doctoroff said Quayside residents could move in as early as 2022.

All of these advancements for the smart neighbourhood plan are happening as more citizens become concerned about how large corporations gather and use the data of private people. Doctoroff has said publicly that Sidewalk Labs will destroy non-essential information and only keep information that will improve quality of life—without selling anything to advertisers.

Any company brought in to help construct the smart neighbourhood must also adhere to Sidewalk Labs’ privacy policies.

In total, the company has invested $50 million for testing and implementation this year.