Walking the Sidewalk City

Sidewalk Toronto and the Sustainable Smart City

Call for Participation

May 18, 2018, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
An ICT4S2018 workshop

Workshop Format

On October 17 Sidewalk Toronto (sidewalktoronto.ca ) was announced as a partnership between City of Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet company (along with Google). The stated goal is to create a “new type of mixed-use, urban community" through redevelopment of Toronto's Quayside, 12 acres on the waterfront. This partnership comes with a $50 million USD investment as Sidewalk Labs engages in a public consultation process over the next year (Lorinc, 2017). The project materials, particularly Sidewalk Labs' vision statement, frames Quayside as an “urban living laboratory," that will be “built from the internet up" (2017). Already, local scholars, urbanists, organizers, and civic technologists have asked perceptive and important questions about the nature of the partnership, project governance, data and technology infrastructure, and engagement (Wylie, 2017b). However breaking from this more measured approach, Waterfront for All (waterfrontforall.ca ), the most historically active community group association concerned with Waterfront development, has already come out in support. Throughout there has been little to no consultation with Indigenous Peoples and organizations to make sure that Indigenous perspectives are heard, honoured, and incorporated.

Through a three-hour guided “walkshop" at the proposed Sidewalk Toronto site, participants will engage with differing perspectives and viewpoints at the intersection of emerging ICTs, smart cities discourse, critical place inquiry and sustainability through a series of micro-lectures and interventions. Participants receive a primer prior to the workshop to unpack these differing views and the session will end with a group debrief.

Note on accessibility:
The workshop will consist of prolonged standing and walking on uneven surfaces. Transportation to the site is tentatively through Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) public transportation, while some routes are accessible, many are not barrier free.

If you have any questions about access, please email organizers _at_ walkingsidewalk.city

Call for Participation

Participation in the workshop is open to all interested. Attendees should submit a statement of interest by the ICT4S2018 general deadline of February 15, 2018. Notification of acceptance will happen on a rolling basis, with registration details posted on the ICT4S2018 website closer to the event.


Selected References

Lorinc, J. (2017, November 6). Let’s talk about Sidewalk Labs’ $50 million investment. Spacing Toronto. Retrieved from http://spacing.ca/toronto/2017/11/06/lorinc-lets-talk-about-sidewalk-labs-50-million-investment/

Marshall, A. (2017, October 19). Alphabet is trying to reinvent the city, starting with Toronto. Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/google-sidewalk-labs-toronto-quayside/

Mattern, S. (2016, April). Instrumental city: The view from Hudson Yards, circa 2019. Places Journal. Retrieved from https://placesjournal.org/article/instrumental-city-new-york-hudson-yards/

Mattern, S. (2017, February). A city is not a computer. Places Journal. Retrieved from https://placesjournal.org/article/instrumental-city-new-york-hudson-yards/

McQuire, M. (2016). Geomedia: Networked Cities and the Future of Public Spaces. Somerset, NJ: Wiley.

Sidewalk Labs (2017). Project Vision. Retrieved from https://sidewalktoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Sidewalk-Labs-Vision-Sections-of-RFP-Submission.pdf

Tuck, E. & McKenzie, M. (2015). Place in Research: Theory, Methodology, and Methods. New York, NY: Routledge.

Wylie, B. (2017a, October 24). Civic tech: On Google, Sidewalk Labs, and smart cities. Torontoist. Retrieved from https://torontoist.com/2017/10/civic-tech-google-sidewalk-labs-smart-cities/

Wylie, B. (2017b, October 30). Civic Tech: A list of questions we’d like Sidewalk Labs to answer. Torontoist. Retrieved from https://torontoist.com/2017/10/civic-tech-list-questions-wed-like-sidewalk-labs-answer/

Workshop Organizers

Rebecca Noone
Rebecca is an artist, curator, and a research candidate at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Currently, she is working a multi-city visual research project that collects hand-drawn directions from helpful passers-by in order to explore situatedness, wayfinding, and spontaneity in an age of digital maps.
Dawn Walker
Dawn is a PhD student at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on how civic technologies could materialize "data justice" in part though broader participation in design practices.