The News Today
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11.14.19
Privacy Nightmare

Alphabet-Owned Company Unveils Plans for Smart City

June 24th 19__Victor Tangermann__Filed Under: Future Society
Sidewalk Toronto

Smart City Inside a City

Alphabet-owned subsidiary, Sidewalk Labs, just released a massive 1,524 page document outlining its plans for a $1.3 billion 190 acre smart neighborhood in Toronto, Canada.

Plans for the equally ambitious and contentious Innovative Development and Economic Acceleration (IDEA) District cover large swathes of undeveloped land near the city’s lakeside.

Sidewalk Labs wants to turn the area into an “affordable, inclusive community” according to an official website that’s focused on smart technology including “digital services that improve quality of life.” While the company hasn’t outlined exactly what kind of data will be collected — the wording of its plans are quite vague still — many critics have raised concerns over data privacy and security in the past.

The $1.3 billion includes investment in a tall timber factory, which would make timber construction materials for the first houses. It also includes “optional credit financing” to speed up the building of a light rail connection to the waterfront.

As for the people moving in, some 50 percent of all housing units would be rentals, 40 percent of which would fall below-market rates.

The company is promising that its plans will create some 44,000 jobs and generate billions in annual tax revenue while increasing Canada’s GDP, as the Toronto Star reports.

Facing Criticism

But there are plenty of critics of Sidewalk Labs’ massive plans: some are calling into question what kind of data will be collected of the neighborhood’s new residents, whose hands that data will into, and how it will affect their privacy.

Public advocate group Waterfront Toronto called the proposal for turning 190 acres — a far cry from what was supposed to be a redevelopment of a 12-acre site called Quayside — “premature,” calling for Sidewalk Labs to start with the 12-acre plot and have “goals and objectives achieved” there first in a public letter.

Critics also raised concerns over the lack of public transit to the site — and to Waterfront Toronto that’s a requirement “prior to development.”

READ MORE: Sidewalk Labs vows its 190-acre waterfront plan will be ‘economic windfall’ for Toronto [Toronto Star]

More on Sidewalk Labs: Alphabet Will Start Toronto Smart City Project This Summer. Residents Still Have Questions.