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Episode 69 of 92

Smart Cities: "Are we creating solutions looking for problems?"

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Upzoned
Duration: 28:50
A controversial project in Toronto that would have transformed “a slice of Toronto’s waterfront into a high-tech utopia” has been shut down by Sidewalk Labs (a subsidiary of Alphabet) due to "unprecedented economic uncertainty."
“At one point,” writes Andrew J. Hawkins in The Verge, “Sidewalk Labs’
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A controversial project in Toronto that would have transformed “a slice of Toronto’s waterfront into a high-tech utopia” has been shut down by Sidewalk Labs (a subsidiary of Alphabet) due to "unprecedented economic uncertainty."
“At one point,” writes Andrew J. Hawkins in The Verge, “Sidewalk Labs’ plan was to spend $1.3 billion on mass timber housing, heated and illuminated sidewalks, public Wi-Fi, and, of course, a host of cameras and other sensors to monitor traffic and street life.”
The project had raised a variety of concerns, not least from privacy advocates, who objected to the intrusion of technology into their everyday lives. Chris Teale, a reporter at Smart Cities Dive, said the Quayside project “spawned what many called a ‘techlash’ against big tech companies asserting themselves in such a ways, and has led to a belief that future projects must be less focused on sensors and data analytics and instead look to partner better with everyone.”
Each week, our Upzoned podcast takes one story in the news that touches the Strong Towns conversation and we “upzone” it. This week we’re looking at the smart cities movement in general—and the Quayside project in particular. Host Abby Kinney, an urban planner in Kansas City, is joined by regular co-host Chuck Marohn (president of Strong Towns) as well as by our senior editor Daniel Herriges, who has been closely following the Quayside story for years. Abby, Chuck, and Daniel discuss the allure of high-tech cities, why a lot of smart city initiatives seem designed not to serve people but rather make us better consumers, and the consequences of creating systems with built-in fragility.
Then in the Downzone, Abby talks about the role Strong Towns has played in how Gould Evans and other leaders are building a stronger and more financially resilient Kansas City. This is Member Week at Strong Towns. If Strong Towns has helped you think about your city in ways that are truly smart, consider becoming a member today. Let’s grow this movement together: https://www.strongtowns.org/membership






 






Additional Show Notes

“'Techlash' at Sidewalk Labs could mean smart city rethink,” by Chris Teale


“Is Strong Towns Anti-Smart City?” by Kea Wilson


”In Defense of Dumb Cities,” by Michael McGinn


Become a Strong Towns Member


Abby Kinney (Twitter)


Charles Marohn (Twitter)


Daniel Herriges (Twitter)


Gould Evans Studio for City Design


Theme Music by Kemet the Phantom (Soundcloud)
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