“Google has built an online empire by measuring everything. Clicks. GPS coordinates. Visits. Traffic.” So here’s a use for that data-collecting expertise: build an entire 2,000-acre neighborhood (about the size of Venice Beach) from scratch, and make it an inspiring international model of innovative, successful urban development.
The city of Toronto is partnering with Sidewalk Labs, a division of Google parent Alphabet, to build a data-driven slice of utopia. Sustainability is high on the list of objectives, along with building complete communities hospitable to a wide range of income levels. As the Quayside neighborhood develops and grows, Sidewalk Labs will have sensors in public areas, and will also collect data from residents. In a variation on A/B testing, “data scientists will analyze the firehose of data to figure out what’s working and what’s not. It says it will use sophisticated modeling techniques to simulate ‘what-if scenarios’ and determine better courses of action. No one’s using that park bench, but what if we moved it to a sunnier corner of the park?”
Based on the data, they will make continual improvements to better serve the community. What surprises will the data reveal? Will any conventional wisdom about urban life be upended? Stay tuned to Toronto for future developments.