July 20, 2024
Critics urge Toronto to abandon plans for a 'Google smart city' with robotic bin collection, snow-melting sidewalks and self-driving taxis amid concerns over privacy and data harvesting.
Quayside would harbour all kinds of futuristic conveniences, according to plans, with self-driving taxis, automated waste collection and pavements that automatically melt away snow, as seen in this artist's impression.
Quayside would harbour all kinds of futuristic conveniences, according to plans, with self-driving taxis, automated waste collection and pavements that automatically melt away snow, as seen in this artist’s impression.

Beset by public criticism, a smart city development planned for Toronto’s waterfront faces fresh condemnation from prominent business people over privacy issues.

Residents of the city had previously started the #BlockSidewalk movement in reaction to the opaqueness of Google-stablemate Sidewalk Labs’ planning to date.

This collected backlash follows a recent lawsuit by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who want the project halted over concerns of ‘surveillance capitalism’.

The quayside project is a concept from Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google parent company Alphabet.

The plan is to revitalise a run-down stretch of Toronto’s waterfront, crafting it into the most technologically advanced and data-driven district in any of the world’s cities.

However, resistance to the project has been growing in the form of a public campaign, a lawsuit, and prominent resignations — with the firm having failed to assuage concerns it will not abuse data gathered by the smart city.

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