Sidewalk Labs is building a prototype for the urban future on Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront. The company promises to deliver “the integration of innovation, both physical and digital, across every aspect of urban life,” building a new city “from the internet up.” This project — and the hundreds of smaller-scale smart city interventions taking place in cities around the world — asks us to re-think relationships between governments, the private sector, and residents. What are the tradeoffs in terms of privacy, accountability, and democracy that the smart city demands? Technology often has unintended consequences, so how are governments and the private sector planning for what they can’t anticipate? And, finally, can the smart city be a more human-oriented city, which supports interaction between residents, opportunities for connection and delight, and the primacy of people over technology? Dan Doctoroff, Founder and CEO, Sidewalk Labs joins Jennifer Bradley, Executive Director, Center for Urban Innovation, The Aspen Institute at CityLab Detroit.
Photographs were provided by Kristoffer Tripplaar, 2018.