The Google city gets green light

TORONTO: Toronto authorities gave a provisional green light on Thursday to plans by a tech company in the Google empire to build a futuristic neighbourhood on a strip of lakefront that will include robots for delivering mail and collecting garbage.
Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s parent Alphabet, has proposed building a carbon-neutral community “from the Internet up,” where tall buildings would be made of timber and technology would be geared to catering to every aspect of modern living.
Permission for the 12-acre (five-hectare) site in the city’s bayfront area is dependent on a final evaluation, before a formal rubber stamp in March 2020 if all goes well.
The project envisages heated sidewalks and bike paths that melt snow in winter, street-side parking that can be pre-booked, and underground robots that distribute parcels and manage waste.
Sensors would also measure pedestrians’ gait, water consumption and trash production — all in hopes of better understanding and adapting to the dynamics of urban life.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other proponents have heralded the opportunity to create an innovation hub where tens of thousands of people would live and work in Canada’s largest metropolis.
But, in an era of global concern over data protection, the blueprint has faced criticism over the potential for lost privacy and data misuse, as well as over the privatisation of public services.
The more controversial sections of a draft proposal released in June that provoked a backlash have been dropped.
“Sidewalk Labs listened to our concerns, and those of the public, and has confirmed that it will make significant changes to its proposals,” said Waterfront Toronto chairman. — AFP