Google Launches a Pilot Smart Neighborhood in Toronto — And Wants to Even Change the Weather

Google Launches a Pilot Smart Neighborhood in Toronto — And Wants to Even Change the Weather

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Melissa Massello
Oct 20, 2017
(Image credit: Sidewalk Labs)

As the old adage goes: If you don't like the weather just wait five minutes. Well now, if you don't like the weather in the city where you live, you can just wait for Google's new futuristic neighborhood plans to come to your neck of the woods.

The initiative from Sidewalk Labs, an urban innovation company owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, wants to take an initial $50 million investment and turn it into an intentionally designed model for urban life in the 21st century —starting with a pilot plan and test in Canada's largest and most expensive city.

The futuristic 12-acre neighborhood on the southeastern Toronto waterfront is called Quayside, and its first residents are Google Canada's 1,000 employees: Alphabet has pledged to move its entire Maple Leaf HQ to the neighborhood, according to CNN.

Designed with internet connectivity and data collection top of mind (because, obviously, Google), sensors will monitor everything from traffic patterns to environmental changes. The ambitious proposal from Sidewalk Labs could even make the weather more comfortable so residents can enjoy the waterfront by reducing the impact of wind, increasing shade on sunny days, and blocking rain through smart building design and tree plantings.

Green planning is also paramount to Quayside: the development plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 73%, potable water consumption by 65%, and landfill waste generation by 90%. Transit would also be people-powered, primarily through walking and biking but also shared electric vehicles.

"This is not some random activity from our perspective," Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt said at a news conference Tuesday. "This is the culmination of 10 years of thinking about how technology can improve the quality of people's lives."

Read more about how Google is trying to reinvent cities with its Quayside pilot neighborhood in this fantastic long-read think-piece over on WIRED this week.

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