According to a report from Reuters, Sidewalk Labs is looking to begin testing proposed technology for Toronto’s Quayside project this summer, and build by 2020.
In an interview with Reuters, Sidewalk Labs CEO Daniel Doctoroff said that this timeline is subject to government approvals and other processes, and that the company will likely spend 2019 working through this. He said that a development plan is expected to be approved by Sidewalk and Waterfront Toronto boards by the end of this year, and the first residents could move in as early as 2022.
“Quayside will be a prototype for a broader opportunity,” Doctoroff told the publication. “What we’re trying to do, no one has really succeeded in doing. Thus far, I’ve been thrilled with the way things have gone…but I’m not sanguine about the challenges.”
Alphabet announced that it won its bid to make Toronto the site of its 12-acre Sidewalk Labs project in October 2017, with Waterfront Toronto and Alphabet pledging to spend the next year doing community consultations and planning, long-range planning focused on improving infrastructure and transportation systems, creating new models of affordable housing and flexible retail use.
The project was first reported in May 2017 after Waterfront Toronto made a call for proposals to revitalize the waterfront. During an RBC-hosted event early this year, Doctoroff shared their vision for the project, such as making the area autonomous vehicle-only and building a climate-positive area using technology.
Howeever, the organization has come under scrutiny when it comes to privacy. Quayside will collect data on citizens with the stated purpose of improving services, and according to Reuters, it will put sensors and cameras all over Quayside. Bianca Wylie, head of the Open Data Institute in Toronto, has been one of the project’s skeptics in the past, and took to Twitter in reaction to this announcement:
Why is Sidewalk Labs doing all the talking in the press? Where is Waterfront Toronto, the one that represents residents? Who is framing this narrative? It's a big part of the engagement – telling the story and setting the frame. So we've got a company framing a public process?
— Bianca Wylie (@biancawylie) April 9, 2018
Doctoroff told Reuters that Sidewalk Labs would destroy non-essential information and not sell to advertisers, and third parties must adopt privacy policies developed for the plan. Most of the technology will be sourced from other companies.