Sidewalk Labs could pilot city-changing tech in Toronto sooner than you think

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs smart city subsidiary is working with the city of Toronto to help plan a brand new community, but nothing’s set in stone on that front yet, with a 12-month lead-up period during which they’ll work out the project and make sure all involved agree to move forward. But that doesn’t mean Sidewalk has to wait at least a year to start exploring how some of its work might be applied in practice to Toronto proper and the city’s workings.

Onstage at Google’s Go North conference in Toronto today, Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff explained that while the plan to build a model smart city in Toronto in the city’s waterfront Quayside area remains in the preparatory phase, there are other things that Sidewalk can do right now to begin implementing some of its work in the area.

Sidewalk is talking about how to implement these more immediately with the city, and they could include pilots that focus on traffic mitigation (perhaps in the Queens Quay area, which is also down by the waterfront, Doctoroff said), as well as potentially transplanting some of the ideas it’s experimenting with around healthcare based on a pilot clinic just opened in NYC.

Doctoroff also referred to a “new transportation flow modelling concept” that Sidewalk believes can be beneficial to public transit agencies immediately, and that could come to Toronto soon.

All of the above ideas are not things specific to the long-term plan to develop the 12-acre piece of land begin called Quayside on a section of Toronto’s Port Lands. In fact, Doctoroff said that in terms of timing for these smaller pilots, “we can start those right now,” or at least “relatively soon.”