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The plan of the alphabet for Toronto depends on huge amounts of data



On Monday, Alphabet's Sidewalk Lab published more detailed plans for Toronto, the site of Google's sister company's first attempt to bring its technological digital forward-sensitivity to a full-fledged development project. The Sidewalk Labs project runs until 2017, when the Canadian city welcomed the company into an undeveloped part of the sea. Now, after 18 months of speculation, work and return from local lawyers, the company has a 1,524-page master plan for 12-acre, called Quayside.

Aarian Marshall covers autonomous vehicles, transport policies and city planning for WIRED.

The volume plan highlights ambitious and sometimes flashy innovations from Sidewalk Labs, which have pledged to spend $ 1

.3 billion on the project if it goes ahead. The company hopes to build all buildings with timber, as it says is better for the environment, and build an underground pneumatic trash removal system. It wants residents to lean on public transport, walk and cycle instead of personal cars, and plan to build the streets with autonomous vehicles – perhaps from their sister company, Waymo-in Mind.

Delivery robots can roll down their wide sidewalks. The strategic use of very large, umbrella-like coatings can make outdoor areas comfortable all year round (no small business in Lakeshore Canada). Sidewalk will designate 20 percent of the apartments as "affordable" and another 20 percent as "medium income" for those who do not generally qualify for social programs. And one day, it hopes to grow beyond Quayside, to a larger 350-hectare development called "Innovative Development and Economic Acceleration" or the IDEA district, where other companies can test their own urban innovations.

Many of these new approaches make for good renderings. But they rely on a less visible alphabet philosophy: collecting data on everything. Sensors will study the Quayside development, tracing everything from which street furniture residents use to how quickly they cross the street. This data collection is the most controversial part of Sidewalk's plan. The company says the data is crucial for building a new type of urban space, where traffic, pollution and noise levels are calibrated to keep residents happy. In this follows a new burden of technologically-influenced urban planners, who believe a stricter approach to urban planning can make places more comfortable for everyone. But lawyers in and outside Canada have questioned how the private company, which generates the vast majority of its sales revenue, intends to protect the personal information being collected.

Sidewalk Labs

The new master plan suggests that Sidewalk Labs help establish a state-sanctioned data tolerance, guided by transparent data entry guidelines – what Sidewalk Lab's CEO Dan Doctoroff Monday called "the world's leading urban data management regime. " It promised to create new methods to protect data collected in areas where residents and visitors do not actively agree in their collection. It said that all information would be depersonalized and disaggregated, to hide identities and sensitive information. It said it would never sell data to third parties. And it promised to create a transparent process that allows others to access the collected data. "We are quite convinced that what we have proposed exceeds pretty much existing Canadian and Ontario privacy laws," said Doctoroff.

Still, skeptics remain, in an open letter published Monday, the chair of the nonprofit government, which is Sidewalk Labs, stressed. partner on the project that the main plan is not worked with the Canadian or Toronto government. The letter said the group, called Waterfront Toronto, would "require additional information to determine if [the proposals] is in compliance with applicable law" and called the IDEA district proposal "for Early "It also noted that Sidewalk would need funding commitments and regulation changes from many layers of Canadian government.

The Certificates Against a Difficult Reality for the Alphabet Company: Underpinning its amazing vision for the 12-acre portion of Toronto is just as amazing For partnerships between a large, global city and a large multinational company, land will need to be provided res at an affordable price; It will need public infrastructure obligations, including a light rail extension; It asks for "benefit payments" when the company reaches agreed appointments and milestones.

These types of details will undoubtedly make or destroy the ambitious project. From here, Sidewalk Labs will consult government partners and open the public consultation plan in the next few months. It must be endorsed by the Toronto City Council and Waterfront Toronto by the end of 2020 to move on. A 1,524-page main plan is exciting enough. But the really juicy things have not yet come.


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