Another COVID Victim: Google's Smart City in Toronto
On May 7, 2020, Google announced that its subsidiary, Sidewalk Labs, would no longer be pursuing its smart city in Quayside outside of Toronto.
It had been intended as a 12-acre pilot project.
The plan was to test, optimize, expand to neighboring communities, and, ultimately, transform Toronto into the benchmark for smart city design into the second half of the 21st century.
Featuring driverless car fleets and highly optimized city planning to minimize travel needs for its inhabitants, the Toronto smart city concept would be able to deliver highly competitive residential pricing (over 40% of the planned units were below average market price) but do so with an astonishing 89% carbon footprint reduction.
One of the brilliant, though somewhat surprising, solutions: highrise residential buildings built on computer-designed wooden frames.
More than just a technological marvel, Google and the Canadian government planned to make Quayside a social experiment as well. The below-market pricing for properties in prime locations was touted by Sidewalk Labs on its own website as a means to create a more socioeconomically and demographically "inclusive" community.
The reality is Google and the other tech giants involved in smart city design — Tesla, Cisco, Siemens, Microsoft, and more than a hundred others — have a more practical reason to make sure that the world population centers go through the same modernizations envisioned for Canada's biggest city.
Not Out of the Goodness of Their Hearts
For smart cities to be truly smart, for them to adapt and respond to everything that happens on the surface to ensure efficient operation at all times, each building, each street, and every moving part all the way down to individual inhabitants will need to be monitored at all times.
You think the passive surveillance that devices like Amazon Alexa or the smartphone in your pocket (or in your hand at this very moment) are intrusive?
Imagine living in a place where you're consenting to constant tracking by every means of data collection available, from video cameras to GPS to audio, from morning till night?
Jim Balsillie, the founder of BlackBerry, referred to the project as "a colonizing experiment in surveillance capitalism."
And that's exactly what it is, brought to you by a trillion-dollar tech giant, built upon the very principle of observing its users and serving them advertising based on those observations.
If the idea takes off globally, Google and the rest of big tech will have the most intimate, most continuous stream of information on its most active users.
Sounds a bit scary, right?
Maybe even a little bit dystopian?
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They'll Be Watching You
It's been called both, and the concept has plenty of people on edge, but this high-tech highly ordered society is coming to a city center near you — whether you like it or not.
It's happening all over the world, from the Far East to the Middle East to Europe and all across the Americas, but like any far-reaching technical transformation, the smart city revolution hasn't gone without its share of obstacles.
One of the biggest hurdles in achieving the universally connected, universally observed city has to do with hardware logistics.
Millions of internet-capable sensors, operating around the clock, each feeding off of a power line or a rechargeable battery, in their present form, would make the vision of the Toronto-sized smart city cost prohibitive due to maintenance requirements alone.
Spreading the concept globally would require world energy production to nearly double just to support the unprecedented influx of computing power.
What the tech giants need, and what might be the actual reason behind Quayside's abandonment, is a method to collect and store data without an external power requirement...
Something that could run for months and millions of upload/download cycles without breaking down...
A true "forever memory."
Today, one company based in Arizona is developing just that.
The Last Piece of the Puzzle
This power-independent, stable data-storage technology is already in use in one of the most hostile environments known to man: outer space.
Aside from orbiting satellites, it's been used in sportbike racing and other physically demanding applications.
With data retention endurances of greater than 20 years, this technology has the potential to make every lofty smart city dream an uncompromised reality.
The company behind this disruptive innovation is currently trading at a market capitalization of less than $150 million — yet it holds patents to a technology that will become the cornerstone of a multitrillion-dollar market.
You do the math.
A couple of weeks ago, I released a presentation detailing this company, the opportunity, and what the future will look like for its stock, which is already trading on the Nasdaq.
To get an exclusive look, click here.
Fortune favors the bold,
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