'Stakeholders say unanswered questions remain over scale of Sidewalk Labs’ hi-tech redevelopment scheme for city’s waterfront'
'The Google sister company behind a controversial, hi-tech redevelopment scheme for a swath of Toronto’s waterfront has released the first detailed outline of an ambitious project, but stakeholders say that unanswered questions remain over data collection and the scale of the plan.
The 1,500-page plan unveiled in Toronto on Monday reveals that Sidewalk Labs intends to spend C$1.3bn (US$900m) on the project that will involve “raincoats for buildings”, heated and illuminated sidewalks, affordable housing, tall timber structures and innovations to support sustainability and environmentalism.
It claims the 77-hectare (190.19-acre) project – valued at C$3.9bn – will create 44,000 jobs, generate C$4.3bn in annual tax revenues and add C$14.2bn annually in gross domestic product for Canada.
The plan shows Sidewalk hopes to earn money from real estate (including rental income, condominium sales and the sale of buildings), the deployment of its technology and payments – probably from the government – for hitting performance and growth targets.
About five acres, known as Quayside, and another 7.8 hectares (19.27 acres) called Villiers West will be developed by Sidewalk Labs and local partners, yet to be named. If innovations piloted there are successful, Sidewalk Labs will give the government the option to expand them to a surrounding parcel of 64.2 hectares (158.57 acres).
That scope has prompted questions from Waterfront Toronto, an organization formed by Canada’s three levels of government whose stamp of approval Sidewalk Labs needs to move forward. Waterfront Toronto requested for proposals for the land and awarded Sidewalk Labs the chance to develop a plan for it in late 2017.'
Read more: Google sister company releases details for controversial Toronto project
'City of surveillance': privacy expert quits Toronto's smart-city project
'When it was announced last year that a district in Toronto would be handed over to a company hoping to build a model for new tech-driven smart city, critics were quick to voice concerns.
Despite Justin Trudeau’s exclamation that, through a partnership with Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs, the waterfront neighborhood could help turn the area into a “thriving hub for innovation”, questions immediately arose over how the new wired town would collect and protect data.
A year into the project, those questions have resurfaced following the resignation of a privacy expert, Dr Ann Cavoukian, who claimed she left her consulting role on the initiative to “send a strong statement” about the data privacy issues the project still faces.
“I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance,” she wrote in her resignation letter.
After initially being told that the data collected would be wiped and unidentifiable, Cavoukian told reporters she learned during a meeting last week that third parties could access identifiable information gathered in the district.
“When I heard that, I said: ‘I’m sorry. I can’t support this,’” she told the Global News. “I have to resign because you committed to embedding privacy by design into every aspect of your operation.”'
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