Alphabet started working on the project in 2017, committing more than $50 million to reducing traffic congestion, carbon emissions and landfill waste using technology. But the plan quickly sparked controversy because of concerns over the amount of citizen data it would collect, and was widely slammed by privacy campaigners and politicians.
As part of a 1,524-page report laying out its vision, Sidewalk Labs proposed intersections with sensors, tracking the movement of all people and vehicles. The company said this would help move traffic swiftly and ensure walk signals leave added time for slow walkers, such as the elderly.
Sidewalk Labs said it would create an urban data trust to handle the neighborhood’s information, which would provide independent stewardship of the data and approve how it is collected and used. But experts warned that there is no guarantee data trusts will address issues surrounding privacy, data breaches and biased algorithms.
Waterfront Toronto, the government agency overseeing the development, said it would continue with the project.
Doctoroff said Thursday that Sidewalk Labs will continue to focus on smart cities and related projects.
“While we won’t be pursuing this particular project, the current health emergency makes us feel even more strongly about the importance of reimagining cities for the future,” he said. “This is a vital societal endeavor, and Sidewalk Labs will continue our work to contribute to it.”