Toronto – #TheNextSiliconValley. In May, I wrote about Toronto as a Future Forward Cityscape, and it seems we are now officially well on our way. Toronto is moving towards being the next global tech hub… and moving at a ballistic pace, I might add. As a matter of fact, Forbes now ranks Toronto in its Top 5 of cities (along with Shanghai, Israel, Austin and Phoenix) to hold the title of ‘The Next Silicon Valley.’ Now, let’s match that with last week’s news from Alphabet – Google’s parent company – where they announced plans to put an initial $52 million into developing Quayside – a 12-acre tech mecca wonderland in our fair city (that will be attached to an 800-acre master plan for the waterfront). Wow. Did I say wow? Wow. And… what? A “master plan” for our waterfront? Shut the front door.
Ok. So let’s unbox this for a second. I think Wired put it best, “Google has built an online empire by measuring everything. Clicks. GPS coordinates. Visits. Traffic. The company’s resource is bits of info on you, which it mines, packages, repackages, repackages again, and then uses to sell you stuff. Now it’s taking that data-driven world-building power to the real world. Google is building a city.”
Alphabet itself says that this development will be extremely thoughtful and Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the announcement, “This is not some random activity from our perspective. This is the culmination, from our side, of almost 10 years of thinking about how technology can improve people’s lives.” They emphasize that Quayside will not end up being some fancy high-tech neighborhood that will simply hang by our waterfront. Alphabet says it will be similar to a smartphone’s operating system – that’s right – we are looking at an Android city.
Wired also breaks out a few juicy nuggets from Quayside’s 220-page plan, offering a rare glimpse into our future that verges on the fantastical. In the proposal, the redevelopment outlines a community where everybody is connected by a “highly secure, personalized portal through which each resident accesses public services and the public sector.” Residents will use their connected account to “tell everyone in the building to quiet down; to get into the gym; to give the plumber access to their apartments while they’re at work.” Further, a smart mapping application will “record the location of all parts of the public realm in real time – we’re talking roads, buildings, lawn furniture, and drones.” And construction will “prioritize walkers and bikers, not cars” (though shared “taxibots” and “vanbots” will roam for ease and convenience). They even plan to test a new housing concept called Loft which will be “packed with flexible spaces to be used for whatever the community needs… experimenting with building materials like plastic, prefabricated modules, and timber in the place of steel.”
Sounds pretty future forward. Oh, ya and WiFi… wait for it… everywhere.
In an interview with the Globe & Mail, Mayor John Tory hailed the announcement as a step toward creating “a global hub for urban innovation” in Toronto. “This is a moment for Toronto. By having Alphabet interested in coming here, we’re building up our credentials as THE place to be in the world.”
I couldn’t agree more Mr. Tory. Hey, Amazon, you know you want to play here – not sure we’ll have you #TorontoTheNextSiliconValley
Michael Chase, CMO
St. Joseph Communications