Friday, May 08, 2020

Sidewalk Labs' Toronto "smart city" development fades away

It looks like the much-touted and over-hyped Sidewalk Labs Quayside development on Toronto's harbourfront has finally died a death, fading away with neither a bang nor a whimper. Sidewalk Labs is blaming it on the COVID-19 pandemic, but the project has been beset with problems from the get-go.
I was never sold on the Google affiliate's sexy but vague plan to privately develop an under-utilized area of Toronto's waterfront into a "smart city", with promises of subterranean garbage robots, automatic data harvesting, and other innovative technological marvels. It was all very flashy and high-tech, but suspiciously vague and aspirational in many important areas, and replete with some alarming plans for digital surveillance and the privatization of self-evident public services and roles.
Techy creative types chastised Toronto's government for pussyfooting around and not having the "vision" to commit to such a grand innovative scheme. I, for one, as a Toronto tax-payer and potential harbourfront visitor, am grateful for our stodgy, reactionary city council for dragging their feet and not getting involved in an aspirational scheme rife unknown unknowns.

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