Sidewalk Toronto will ‘stitch’ city together, Sidewalk Labs CEO says during AMA

The first 21st century neighbourhood won’t isolate itself from the rest of Toronto, the CEO of Google sister company Sidewalk Labs said Wednesday.

“It should be fully integrated into the fabric of the metropolitan area,” said New York-based Dan Doctoroff during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit about the Sidewalk Toronto proposal.

The tech-focused neighbourhood, according to Doctoroff, could “stitch” together Toronto’s east waterfront together with the downtown area and may include potential expansions of mass transit. Doctoroff pointed to new forms of shuttles, heated bike and pedestrian paths, and self-driving technology.

“We also believe some of the approaches we pilot here, including using technology to manage flows of pedestrians, cyclists, transit vehicles, as well as cars, can be applied more broadly in other Toronto areas,” he wrote, while praising the city’s growing tech sector.

When asked about the collection of data and how it’s going to be used, Doctoroff had considerably less to say.

“There is nothing more important to the success of this project than developing a privacy and data policy that people can trust, and over the course of the next year we’ll be developing that policy in collaboration with the community,” he said, noting that Sidewalk Labs is consulting with Ann Cavoukian, executive director of the Privacy and Big Data Institute at Ryerson University and a former Ontario information and privacy commissioner.

Doctoroff noted that the company is not “overly focused” on the revenue model specifics, and instead wants the project to lay a solid underlying infrastructure that can be built upon down the road. Waterfront Toronto recently received a $1.25 billion (CAD) investment by federal, provincial, and municipal governments to revitalize the area with critical infrastructure and flood protection. The tech-focused neighbourhood will be built on a 325-hectare (800 acres) area of primarily publicly-owned land.

The project’s initial proposal can be read here.

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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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