November 15, 2019 / 9:01 PM / 9 months ago

Factbox: Technology for Alphabet's futuristic smart city dream in Toronto

TORONTO (Reuters) - Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Sidewalk Labs released a detailed overview on Friday of the futuristic technology it intends to incorporate in the smart city it wants to build in Toronto.

The company says 82% of its proposals have existing precedents around the world, either fully or partially implemented - although not necessarily at the scale Sidewalk envisions. Here are a few key technologies that already exist in some form and what Sidewalk would do with them in the Quayside project.


Known as “bicycle green waves,” these street crossings detect when a bike is present and coordinate traffic lights to allow a cyclist to travel without having to stop. This already exists in cities around the world, including Amsterdam and parts of Toronto itself.


A 25-year-old on a jog may take less time to cross the street than an 85-year-old using a cane - adaptive pedestrian signals can adjust to each of these. In Singapore, individuals can trigger a longer walk signal at certain intersections using a senior’s transit card.


Sidewalk is proposing to streamline and simplify the application for the affordable housing that will make up 40% of the apartments in Quayside. New York City and San Francisco have both created online affordable housing applications, but Sidewalk says these don’t include income verification, which its would.


Seattle maintains a master list of surveillance technology used by the city, but Sidewalk would take that a step farther and create a public map of sensors and data-collection devices in Quayside.


Many cities have garbage cans with volume sensors, but Sidewalk proposes self-driving cans that empty themselves into a centralized waste disposal site before returning to their original location. Sidewalk didn’t name a company that would provide this infrastructure, although it said it exists.


Sidewalk would install sound-level sensors into residential apartments - a practice it says occurs often in industrial buildings, but not in homes or offices.


Helsinki, Birmingham and Antwerp all have Maas Global, which stands for Mobility as a Service - a company that provides one subscription to a variety of modes of transportation, including public transit, bikeshare and ridesharing. Sidewalk envisions a similar all-in-one system for transportation in Quayside.

Reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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