Google Is Planning a 12-Acre High-Tech City in Canada

May 09, 2017

Google's parent company, Alphabet, has applied to develop a strip of land in downtown Toronto in order to create a brand new high-tech city "from the Internet up." The application is the latest initiative from Sidewalk Labs LLC, the company's urban innovation unit, and is part of a vision to create a large-scale urban district modeled after a tech company.

“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," said Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff in remarks reported by State Scoop.

Prior to filing the Toronto application, Sidewalk Labs had considered Denver and Detroit as candidates for the high-tech city and has long pondered the idea of building "from the Internet up," according to Bloomberg.

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If the Toronto plan goes forward, it would entail transforming a 12-acre packet of land in a district called Quayside that abuts the town's commercial center. The details of the application are sparse but Doctoroff has spoken in the past—including at Fortune's Brainstorm E conference—about his vision for urban areas based on sensors, unlimited broadband connectivity, and big data collections.

Using these technologies, Doctoroff believes a city could radically reduce congestion and bridge the "digital divide" between rich and poor.

Officials from Toronto, which is Canada's largest city, have so far declined to comment on Google's application. But the Financial Post says the city can be considered a good candidate for an experimental high-tech district due to its fast growth, diverse population, and desire to attract U.S. investment.

If the plan goes forward, it would amount to another of Google's (googl) so-called "moonshots" and the biggest project yet for Sidewalk Labs.

Currently, the urban innovation unit is best known for its Link NYC program, which is placing hundreds of Internet kiosks throughout New York City. The kiosks provide free browsing and Wi-Fi, but they also have the potential to collect data on pollution, crowd congestion, and other aspects of urban life.

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