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Sidewalk Labs Comes to its Final Adjourn

The urban subsidiary of Google has reached its final blow. The chief executive, Dan Doctoroff, recently revealed that he had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. As a result, he announced stepping down from his position to dedicate his time towards raising funds for ALS research. 

This unfortunate news, along with the company’s detachment from a smart city-building project in Toronto a year and a half ago, leads to the eventual disbanding. Here is how it all started:

The Back Story

Sidewalk aimed to revolutionize design thinking and urban planning. Initially, the company hosted a contest among cities to see perfect new regulations.  

Sidewalk then signed a contract with Waterfront Toronto to build a small 12-acre community with high-profiled infrastructure near the downtown. However, it earned a bad reputation as the company kept defying the contract by utilizing more land and power than initially decided. 

Canadians also began having doubts about the data collection that could jeopardize citizens’ privacy. Moreover, people raised concerns about the policymaking process of Canada’s government after this debacle. It gained more negative traction when eminent Canadian urban planners, public service, and investment experts were fired or resigned from their jobs.

The beginning of the Downfall

All of this disarray did not serve well for the company. The global pandemic’s economic uncertainty and dictum from Waterfront Toronto led to the eventual Toronto smart-city project cancelation in May 2020. 

Moreover, developer Stephen Diamond got promoted as Waterfront Toronto’s chair during this challenging time. Diamond spent his tenure negotiating with Mr. Doctoroff, and he was disappointed to realize that Sidewalk Labs had a vision much larger than initially proposed.

Later, the company focused on developing individual products for cities such as smart parking-spot availability and a health care platform worth more than a billion dollars now. However, after Sidewalk fired most of its Toronto staff upon the project’s cancellation, it became lower-profile. The top deputies deserted their positions that sent the company spiraling into chaos.

Way Forward

Mr. Doctoroff revealed that there had been a shift of most of the Sidewalk’s products that are in the development stage under Google’s umbrella. Sidewalk’s remaining top two deputies will be overseeing their development from now. 

Another active project focused on constructing tall buildings made from wood was given to another company. But, unfortunately, there hasn’t been any news release about the urban products in the making yet.

Sidewalk Labs Launches Toronto Office

The future is here. Sidewalk Labs, Google sponsored organization,  opened their office in Toronto. Their goal would be to “re-imagine Toronto and other cities to improve quality of life.”

Their office and community space will be located at 307 Lake Shore Boulevard East – where anyone will be able to pop in and discuss the future of the city and provide their ideas how to make the city of Toronto a better place to live.

They will also be hosting monthly meetups called Open SideWalks which will cover meetings, demos, etc.

Main Objectives of Sidewalks Labs are to: 

  • Establish a complete community that improves quality of life for a diverse population of residents, workers, and visitors.
  • Create a destination for people, companies, startups, and local organizations to advance solutions to the challenges facing cities, such as energy use, housing affordability, and transportation.
  • Make Toronto the global hub of a rising new industry: urban innovation.
  • Serve as a model for sustainable neighbourhoods throughout Toronto and cities around the world.

People who work at Sidewalk Labs will be located on second floor, while all demos and meet up will take place on the first floor.

Next meetup will take place on Wed 11 July, 2018 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm at their offices. They will discuss initial sketches for the planning and development work for Toronto’s waterfront. If you miss that one , there is another one coming up on Wed 26 September, 2018 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, where speakers will be discussing ways that cities around the world are preparing for the future and addressing challenges related to sustainability, mobility, housing, and inclusive urban design.

Now it is time to get a great job and help change your city for the better: https://boards.greenhouse.io/sidewalklabs#.WAfElZMrIXp