- Sidewalk Labs says it will produce a "Digital Innovation Appendix" that will list all of the technology to be used in its Quayside project in Toronto, following criticism from an advisory panel that said plans for the smart city site were vague and "repetitive."
- In a report released last week, one member of Waterfront Toronto's Digital Strategy Advisory Panel wrote that the plan was "frustratingly abstract." The report also said the project "did not appear to put the citizen at the center of the design process for digital innovations."
- In a meeting Thursday to discuss the feedback, Sidewalk Labs offered to submit the appendix report next month, including information on data governance. “We are confident the Digital Innovation Appendix will help respond to some of this feedback,” Sidewalk Labs Communications Director Keerthana Rang told Smart Cities Dive.
Sidewalk Labs has promised that its 12-acre Quayside development will be a showcase for the city of the future, with buildings made of mass timber, adaptable street design that will prioritize active transportation and reams of data-collecting sensors. The 1,500-page master plan released in June put a $1.3 billion price tag on the project and detailed technology like weather-adapting buildings and underground waste disposal.
Waterfront Toronto, the organization overseeing the development, had been set to reach a final agreement with the company by Oct. 31 on a partnership deal. However, in light of concerns over the lack of detail in the plan, that deadline was pushed back six months to give additional review time, Waterfront Toronto said.
Spokesman Andrew Tumilty said in a statement that Waterfront Toronto is still exploring "threshold issues" and how to proceed with an evaluation to make sure the policies proposed by Sidewalk Labs are "consistent with our obligations to the waterfront, and the people of Toronto."
The Digital Strategy Advisory Panel slammed Sidewalk Labs' proposal for being "overly focused on the 'what' rather than the 'how.'" The panel said it did not lay out a "minimum viable plan" that showed the "must have" elements of the project in the event that certain innovations did not come through. It was also unclear, the panel said, how Torontonians would be able to comment on the design of technology and the site.
Of particular concern was how Sidewalk Labs would handle data resident and visitor data, a long-standing criticism of the project. Although Sidewalk Labs has proposed a "data trust" run by a third party, the review said the proposal still lacked "greater specificity" on how it would function, or how it would handle a potential data breach.
The Quayside project has proven controversial among others in Toronto as well, with several advisors resigning over data concerns and a poll released this spring showing only 54% of Toronto residents supporting the proposal.