Tech businesses have been at the forefront of many creative innovations. Major companies such as Apple, Uber, Google, Facebook, Intel, and more contributed greatly to advancements in communications.
The companies added many new conveniences helpful in day-to-day living. Thanks to market growth, tech company involvement in a variety of different business endeavors are common. Some wonder if there are any limits to the types of business ventures tech companies can become involved.
Some even ask questions about whether tech companies are up to the task of outright building a city. A decade or so ago, the notion the tech industry would be involved with city planning and construction would be found mainly in science-fiction works. Today, the idea that tech companies can create cities isn’t too far out of the realm of reality.
Enter Sidewalk Labs
Sidewalk Labs and the City of Toronto recently entered into a new partnership agreement. Sidewalk Labs plans to act as the driving force behind the development of a new waterfront precinct. Normally, a real estate development project wouldn’t draw much media attention. What makes this particular deal intriguing is the fact Sidewalk Labs’ parent company is Alphabet. Alphabet also owns Google. This connection has raised eyebrows.
Now, if Alphabet was merely diversifying its ownership portfolio by running a development company, eyebrows wouldn’t be raised. The new project, however, won’t be separating technological innovations from the real estate development. A significant integration may be engaged in. In other words, Sidewalk Labs may be creating the “City of the Future.”
Technology Drives the City
Technology has become integrated into many aspects of the average person’s life. The smartphone has gone from a luxury item to an essential item in record time. The communicative and other feature associated with a smartphone improve both personal and professional lives to a significant degree. Accessing portfolio management software or pulling daily news reports from a simple app are two examples of how this is so. People embrace such technological achievements and start to look for them in almost all their daily interactions. Life becomes easier as a result.
The notion of a “smart city” makes sense upon realizing just how reliant people are becoming on technology. Embracing technological changes could lead to pedestrian street lights becoming helpful in many ways to someone trying to navigate a busy intersection. Such technological advancements could be integrated into scores of common things found in a city.
Trials, Errors, and the Smart City
The new plan designed for Toronto certainly isn’t the first time the concept of a smart city has been tried. Previous attempts in other countries, unfortunately, didn’t thrive. The grand failure of the Dongtan eco-city in China did not exactly build confidence in the creation of smart cities. Looking solely at a single example of a failed development project can reflect the wrong attitude.
Different planners with different visions and strategies for implementation could succeed where others failed to achieve. The ability to look at where previous smart city plans faltered also helps the cause of generating more potential for the new cities to succeed.
Innovations Thrive in Planning
Sidewalk Labs isn’t looking to simply integrate minor changes to the city. Serious and careful planning seeks to develop welcome innovations that people would embrace. A new parking app, for example, doesn’t just direct people to places to park. The app also provides information on parking-related pricing, which should be appreciated by those trying to keep their budget under control in the big city.
The various new technology developments cannot simply add window dressing to an archaic urban landscape. Innovative improvements must be integrated into the resident’s daily lives. The improvements may only be minor ones but, if they can make a desirable impact, the smart upgrades can be deemed successful.
With the powerful backing of Alphabet, look for this project’s odds of success to be greater than previous attempts to modernize and upgrade a city.