This is a pretty big deal, especially if Toronto is able to be the first to integrate many of these new technologies into the city.
Sidewalk Labs, the smart city subsidiary of Alphabet with the stated goal of “reimagining cities from the Internet up,” now has a very big sandbox in which to conduct its high-tech experiments. The Google spinoff announced a deal with the city of Toronto to develop 800 acres of waterfront property into its own digital utopia.
Waterfront Toronto, a city agency tasked with overseeing the development along the shore of Lake Ontario, is teaming up with Sidewalk Labs to create a new venture called Sidewalk Toronto. On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined top executives from Alphabet, including executive chairman Eric Schmidt, to announce the deal, which includes a $50 million commitment from Sidewalk Labs for the installation and testing of the company’s smart city technology. The cost of the project, currently dubbed Quayside, is likely to run over $1 billion, according to an earlier report by The Wall Street Journal.
The announcement is the culmination of months of teasing hints by Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff about a deal to build a city-within-a-city to trial self-driving cars, public Wi-Fi, new health care delivery solutions, and other city planning advances that modern technology makes possible. Indeed, the rumor mill has been churning about a mythical “Google Island” since even before the company spun off Sidewalk Labs as its smart city incubator.
Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous vehicle technology will be a big part of its Toronto project to make urban life more Googley.
Sidewalk Labs LLC, a unit of Google parent Alphabet, and Waterfront Toronto unveiled plans to build a digital district in Canada’s largest city. Sidewalk’s official plans filed with the city and released on Tuesday include visions of all sorts of robotic transport: driverless bike-like vehicles, larger self-driving vans, robotic delivery and even autonomous trash collection.
Sidewalk Labs said it will work with companies such as Waymo to deploy a "baseline fleet of taxibots and multi-passenger vanbots." Existing providers, such as Lyft, would be welcome to enter the market, it added. "A key goal of the taxibot system is to use competition to improve user experience, and individuals will be encouraged to include any privately-owned self-driving vehicles in the system as well," according to Sidewalk’s plan.
In the near-term, Sidewalk plans to run a six-to-twelve person autonomous shuttle in the summer in a specific area of Toronto to get residents used to the technology. "Single-person selfdriving vehicles might eventually be integrated into an elevated transport system, such as a gondola," Sidewalk added.
The Alphabet unit also plans to move goods, not just people, autonomously through its digital district. It envisions an "internal robot delivery system" for all businesses and residents in the Quayside area of Toronto, and will seek to expand it further. Finally, a four-part solid waste system Sidewalk imagines would include a waste hauling system the relies on autonomous vehicle technology, according to the plan submitted to Toronto.
There’s no begging in Toronto’s Amazon bid
Stonecrest, Ga. promised to create a whole new city, name it after Amazon, and install the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, as mayor-for-life. Chula Vista, Calif., offered $400 million in tax incentives. Newark, N.J., upped the grasping bribery stakes to $7 billion. What incentives were we willing to offer? None.
Well, not none, exactly. The city’s bid offered the incentive of locating in Toronto: an amazing city to live in, and an amazing place to do business. It explains what we are, why we’re attractive, and why anyone would be foolish to overlook us. Amazon would be lucky to locate here. And that ought to be incentive enough. ....in considering the prospect of inviting a new global tech giant to the city, we became aware of our own attractiveness. And felt some confidence in ourselves, with or without them.
The submission reads like a manifesto of civic self confidence: “From safety, crime, healthcare, and education, to housing, culture, and economic as well as geophysical stability, the Toronto Region leads North America on every important quality of life metric,” it says in one place. “Ontario was the first province in Canada to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003. We remain signatories to the Paris Climate agreement. We believe in — and enforce — gun control. Abortion is in no danger of being repealed, and birth control is accessible. We have universal healthcare and robust public schools,” it goes on. “We are also fun,” it also says, maybe protesting too much. “We welcome more new immigrants each year than New York, L.A., and Chicago combined. We speak over 180 languages and dialects.”
It’s great that we put all this stuff down to entice a business to locate here. It’s a document aimed at Amazon, but it’s there ready to send out to virtually any other company looking to see what we offer. Let Amazon decide whatever it wants. We’ll be fine either way.
Not exactly... remember they are not leaving the USA. Their true headquarters will always remain in Seattle. This is a second "satellite headquarters" and there are always many reasons to locate a second headquarters in another country. Most US companies already do this without presidents and it's people getting all pissy!Amazon, in my opinion, probably has no desire to leave the USA and get yelled at by Trump. They will probably take the best offer.
I'm not so sure. Global tech companies are typically run by people who are open to change, have a global outlook, ruled by logic, and know their businesses are driven by talent. Money is likely secondary to a company worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Even so, locating in Canada would save them $650 million in health care costs annually. Within 11 years it would equal the $7 billion that Newark is offering Amazon + they wouldn't be stuck in Newark.Amazon, in my opinion, probably has no desire to leave the USA and get yelled at by Trump. They will probably take the best offer.
Here's an article from the New York Times.
Google’s Founders Wanted to Shape a City. Toronto Is Their Chance.
Emily Badger @emilymbadger OCT. 18, 2017
A rendering of the Sidewalk Labs vision for a new waterfront development in Toronto.
Google’s founders have long fantasized about what would happen if the company could shape the real world as much as it has life on the internet.
“Years ago, we were sitting there thinking, Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take technical things that we know and apply them to cities?” Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Alphabet (now Google’s parent company), said Tuesday. “And our founders got really excited about this. We started talking about all of these things that we could do if someone would just give us a city and put us in charge.”
That is, of course, an outlandish idea. “For all sorts of good reasons, by the way, it doesn’t work that way,” Mr. Schmidt acknowledged. But there he was standing Tuesday before an array of Canadian flags, in front of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario officials, to announce the closest thing anyone has seen to a tech company that takes the reins in a major city......
read it all here: