Where Toronto sees smart sidewalks, residents see ‘1984.’ So what now?

It is touted as a unique opportunity to build a smart city within a major city, literally from the ground up. Environmental remediation, new infrastructure, digital electrification plans, new-age mobility options — the whole shebang.

If only people would stop complaining about privacy issues.

Up in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, there’s been much ado about what will happen to all the data that the future Sidewalk Toronto project will generate. The focus of the debate has been, predictably, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) whose Sidewalk Labs is the primary partner in the project. And yet, for all the sturm und drang about personal information, not a single spade-full of dirt has been spilled yet.

For Toronto, the city would gain a new and smart neighborhood. For Alphabet, it would have access to data. So what’s the Sidewalk Toronto project all about, and why are consumer advocates sounding the alarms?