The mayor of the city of Toronto, Canada has ambitions to make the city a smart city. Many steps have been undertaken to promote this side of the city. Mayor John Tory, made use of the recent City-Toronto Board of Trade ¨smart cities summit¨ to outline a few of the steps that are planned to make the Toronto a smart city.
Toronto Smart City Journey
When referring to the term smart city, the city’s Mayor means that he aims to make the city of Toronto an innovative one. The city of Toronto is home for many innovators and has over 60 tech incubators where new technologies and companies can be nurtured.
As said by Mayor John Tory:
“Toronto is home to a large population of innovators, start-ups and tech companies which can help the City deliver better services to the public, while promoting a new approach to problem-solving within government.”
The city’s government wants to focus on three main pillars in their smart city journey: adopting technology to improve city services, improving the quality of telecommunications infrastructure for the digital world and developing the entrepreneurial companies that can sell their smart city technologies around the world.
An interesting project that will take place in the city of Toronto is the construction of the Waterfront Innovation Centre. This project is expected to start before the end of the year and will be led by Sidewalk Labs, LLC, one of the first independent units of Google before it turned into the Alphabet holding company. Sidewalk Labs teams consist of urbanists and technologists that work with cities to develop ideas that deliver real value to cities today. Currently, the company is focusing on districts as they can function as a test lab for their new products and services. Toronto is the first city that is teaming up with the company. The city is providing a 12-acre strip downtown Toronto for the creation of a smart city hub.
Interest of Sidewalk Labs in Toronto
Sidewalk Labs is aiming to ¨fix¨ cities with the use of technology. Therefore, the choice of the under-developed industrial waterfront of the city makes sense. This part of the city is a complete ghost town, it has few businesses and even fewer attractions.
This makes the 12-acre location, perfect for the building of a smart city hub. The vision of the smart city hub entails high-speed internet access, free wifi across the hub, self-driving cars, ride-sharing and sensors that automate the way people engage with their surroundings. This will provide the possibility to make the surroundings smart. The use of this technologies should make everything from the street lights to air conditioning smarter and more efficient.
According to Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff:
“I’m sure many of you are thinking this is a crazy idea. We don’t think it’s crazy at all. People thought it was crazy when Google decided to connect all the world’s information. People thought it was crazy to think about the concept of a self-driving car.”
Toronto Smart City Hub
Google’s vision is to build a city ¨from the internet up¨, this makes Toronto the perfect location to try it out. The company will have the opportunity to showcase what the company is capable of doing without ruffling any feather or raising real red flags.
The smart city hub will be located just a few minutes away from the downtown airport and the city’s financial district. The use of a smart city hub is a perfect opportunity for cities and companies developing smart city technology to run a trial on how they can improve a city. In fact, this will provide both parties with the needed insight to incorporate different technologies in a long run.
The creation of a smart city in Toronto can function as a learning opportunity for many cities across the world that are aiming to become a smart city. The creation of a smart city hub by Sidewalk Labs will also provide cities with a better insight of what a company like Google can mean for the development and improvement of smart cities. In fact, this is a good trial for both smart cities and companies that develop technologies that enable these smart cities.