New Instrumentalities

Developing the Operational City: Sidewalk Labs & Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront

International Proceedings

Author(s): T.F. Tierney

In social media and the popular press, there is much discussion over the City of Toronto’s decision to partner with Google on their Eastern Waterfront development, however, there has not been enough scholarly research on its long-term implications. First, this public-private partnership signals a new model for urban design professionals. Second, intelligent infrastructure will be harvesting citizen data continuously and autonomously twenty-four hours per day. Google will build on its reputation as the world’s largest search and data aggregation company by layering the city with a ubiquitous wireless network on top of city services, forming an informational stack that will invisibly orchestrate communication, economics, and energy. Artificial intelligence software will analyze the resultant mass of citizen data, and use it to automatically inform decisions that will shape future city services. Those analytical feedback loops will create an operational city, one where cars drive themselves and smartphones know what residents want and where to find it – all in real time. Is this the future vision for our cities?

Volume Editors
Ángela García de Paredes, Iñaqui Carnicero & Julio Salcedo-Fernandez