Sidewalk Toronto plan pushed back, but you can still see what’s in the works

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A somewhat expected announcement was made earlier this week - Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto have pushed back their deadline for the Sidewalk Toronto plan to spring 2019.

When the concept for the community was first announced, Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto gave themselves one year to come up with a plan. Given this community is supposed to be a testing ground for an array of smart city technologies, we’re not surprised that a detailed plan is not in place less than a year later. We see typical communities without sensors take longer than a year to plan.

Sidewalk Toronto is expected to have features like infrastructure for self-driving cars, tall timber buildings, and trash-collecting robotic vehicles - this has never been done before anywhere in the world, so to us, it’s completely understandable that there’s no solid plan yet.

That doesn’t mean you can’t check out what Sidewalk Labs has in the works. Starting June 30, the 307 space will be open to the public on the weekends from 12-6pm. 307 is where Sidewalk Labs is working on the prototypes for technology that could be a part of the Sidewalk Toronto community. On the weekend, you can ask questions, help test different features, and share your input.

Sidewalk Labs is engaging the public on many levels, from hosting workshops to sending young minds through their fellowship program to different cities to see how other world-class waterfront areas are utilizing smart tech to improve the public realm. Opening 307 to the public is way for Sidewalk Labs to develop its tech in a way that works best for the people who will be using it in the near future.

Navigating 307 is a project Sidewalk Labs is working on with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s ShopTalk program and BlindSquare, which involves navigational beacons that improve wayfinding for everyone. The beacons would allow for a spoken description of spatial layouts. You can check this out on June 30 and every weekend after that.

Another project on display is The Dynamic Street, which is based on a system of hexagonal “pavers.” The hexagonal shape distributes weight more evenly, preventing potholes and cracks from forming. The pavers can be replaced easier than a traditional road or sidewalk. Sidewalk Labs is also experimenting with LED lighting in the pavers, which can change the way pedestrians and motorists use the street. Imagine if the pavers turned a certain colour when designated for car use and then a different colour for when it’s pedestrian-only.

The Sidewalk Toronto plan may have been pushed back, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved and see what the future holds. 307 is located at 307 Lake Shore Blvd. East and is open 12-6pm on the weekend.

Campbell Patterson