Waterfront Toronto reportedly establishing framework to evaluate Sidewalk Labs proposal

sidewalk labs toronto

Waterfront Toronto, the group responsible for administering Toronto’s waterfront revitalization projects, is reportedly working on an “evaluation framework” to review Sidewalk Labs’s Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) once it’s published.

According to a November 23, 2018 Toronto Star interview with Waterfront Toronto’s chief development officer Meg Davis, the framework will determine whether Waterfront Toronto goes forward with the plan proposed by Google-parent Alphabet’s urban development arm.

“We need to show very transparently why we decide to either go forward with the (master plan) or not,” said Davis, according to the Star. “It needs to be grounded in deep analysis and due diligence.”

Waterfront Toronto’s framework will also enforce a commitment to not share user data with third-party groups, including other Alphabet companies, like Waymo.

Data privacy has been a chief concern regarding the Sidewalk Toronto project since its inception.

Sidewalk Labs executives, including the company’s head of urban development Rohit Aggarwala, have used public appearances to attempt to assuage public concerns about data governance.

At the latest Sidewalk Toronto public roundtable in August 2018, however, Waterfront Toronto executives acknowledged that privacy and digital governance conversations were taking part at smaller committee meetings.

A Sidewalk Labs spokesperson told MobileSyrup via email that the company “is working hard to meet the objectives set out by Waterfront Toronto.”

“We look forward to releasing full details of our plans for Quayside soon,” said Sidewalk Labs. “We’re focused on building a plan that will create good jobs for Torontonians, build more affordable housing, improve mobility and create lasting partnerships and opportunities for Canadian innovators and developers.”

Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs solidified their Sidewalk Toronto smart city partnership in October 2017. The Waterfront Toronto board of directors later approved a Plan Development Agreement (PDA) with Sidewalk Labs in July 2018.

As a result of the 58-page PDA, Sidewalk Labs said that it would invest approximately $40 million USD (roughly $52.87 million CAD) to develop the MIDP.

Of that total figure, Sidewalk Labs set aside $2,664,000 USD (approximately $3.52 million CAD) to examine legal, regulatory and policy issues, including data privacy and digital governance.

MobileSyrup has reached out to Waterfront Toronto for comment. This story will be updated with a response.

This article was originally published on MobileSyrup.

Sameer Chhabra

Sameer Chhabra

Sameer Chhabra is a staff writer at MobileSyrup.