Canada builds its smart city by combining in one project all the advances of technology applied to communications, connectivity, and architecture with the purpose of bringing happiness to its citizens.
In an alliance with Google, through its subsidiary SideWalk Labs, the Canadian government invests in the construction of an urban cell located in the port of Toronto. The project aims to add all possible innovations through a model that can be later replicated in different cities of the country and is expected to serve as inspiration for the rest of the world.
The main idea behind the project is sustainability. An idea that according to the estimates, will be the premise for the next urban developments. The happiness that is expected to be provided to citizens through this project is based on the quality of life involved in a city in which residents can move without using private transportation, get all the supplies within a short distance from home, and where having fresh unpolluted air or consuming potable drinking water is not a luxury.
Smart is the new black
Intelligence is a quality that seems to be fashionable today. Smartphones, smart appliances, smart traffic lights, smart cars…and, why not? Smart cities will also begin to enter our lives. Now, what does intelligence lie on?
In the case of smart cities, the term refers to an urban development that integrates technology, architecture, the Internet of Things, and public services. All to manage the needs of the collective in the most efficient way possible, reducing human, and industrial impact on the environment.
Quayside is the name of the smart city that is already being built in a 300-hectare space located south east of Toronto, which will serve as a pilot for a project that hopes to expand around the world.
Homes worth being in an honor roll
Quayside edifications will include the best of construction trends. These are modular buildings designed to be built in wood due to multiple reasons: wood is a much more economical building material and, in this case, the wood will come from forests with controlled logging that are reforested, thus promoting CO2 retention within the city. On the other hand, wood guarantees greater resistance, and insulation from the extreme climatic conditions of the northern country.
Like we said, the design of the buildings is modular, allowing the constant mobility and adjustment of the spaces according to the needs of the users. The internal spaces of the apartments or offices can be modified at any time without resorting to construction work and expenses, using a material that is also fully recyclable.
In terms of humidity and cold, the designers at SideWalk Labs are developing a waterproof layer to cover and protect the buildings from the cold, further isolating them -reducing energy expenditure to counteract the cold and maintenance costs of the structures- which can also be extended over sidewalks and streets to protect citizens during the rain. All of that with the purpose of increasing the time that users can enjoy the outdoors.
Another advantage of this project is the fact that it includes an aqueduct system with heating that melts snow and ice on the sidewalks and streets, absorbing the water automatically, providing greater safety to users, and facilitating pedestrian circulation.
Since the project is defined as a city, and not a housing solution, Quayside is expected to generate around 5,000 construction-related jobs, out of which at least 3,500 will be permanent. The project also includes a public transportation system, a waste collection system operated by robots centrally controlled over the Internet, smart traffic lights and IoT-connected homes. In short, Quayside not only hopes to accommodate people, but also all devices and systems that are considered “smart.”
The Dark Side of Intelligence
Although the project is accepted by 54% of the respondents of a survey conducted by Environics Research in the city of Toronto, no change is possible without controversy. The smart city is rising concerns among members of the #BlockSideWalk movement, who are promoting a boycott against the work that is costing the Canadian government more than $50 million. The main reason for the controversy focuses on the essence of the city’s intelligence: connectivity.
The argument of those who oppose the project is the access that Google will have to control functions such as transportation and public services. All of the above will allow Google to manage a large amount of private data that can be used to manipulate the tastes, choices and decisions of users, in addition to the distribution of taxes charged to citizens, from which this company can benefit.
The progress of this type of development is inevitable, since it emerges as a sustainable, environmentally-friendly and more economical response to excessive population growth. We cannot expect that smart cities won’t pay off to their clever creators, but the important thing is that their residents live up to such interesting proposals. What do you think?