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Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs will build new smart city development in Toronto

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs smart cities subsidiary said today it will work with the city of Toronto to develop 800 acres of waterfront land into a new, tech-driven, urban space. The new project, called Sidewalk Toronto, will cost more than $1 billion in the end, estimates the Wall Street Journal. Sidewalk Labs has already pledged to contribute $50 million. The company responded to a City of Toronto request for bids for an “innovation partner.”

“We are thrilled to announce Sidewalk Toronto, our joint effort with WaterfrontToronto to create a new kind of neighborhood mixing people-centered urban design with cutting-edge technology,” Sidewalk Labs said in a statement.

On Tuesday, project leaders, city officials, and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau got together for a press event to kick off the project. Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt; Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff; and Waterfront Toronto CEO Will Fleissig also spoke.

“We have an opportunity to fundamentally change what urban life can be,” said Doctoroff.

Sidewalk’s existing projects provide some hints of what the Toronto project might include. It’s contributed funding to LinkNYC—what will be the world’s largest free public Wi-Fi program when it’s fully rolled out in New York. Earlier this year, Sidewalk Labs also announced it was teaming up with Transportation for America to help 16 cities prepare to deal with the onslaught of ride-sharing apps and the eventuality of self-driving cars.

The project could also include dedicated lanes for self-driving cars, as well as new healthcare delivery technologies.

“This is not some random project for us,” Alphabet’s Schmidt said. “It’s the culmination of 10 years of thinking about the ways technology can improve people’s lives.”MS