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Future Shock: Inside Google's Smart City

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smart city, illustration

Credit: Financial Times

Google is using a 12-acre plot on the outskirts of Toronto to build a city of the future. One of the project's main goals is to address common urban problems, such as congestion, inefficient services, and unaffordable housing.

For example, Google has created a prototype of a "raincoat"—a transparent, domed plastic awning that would attach to buildings and cover the areas in front. The raincoat is equipped with climate-regulating technology that would make residents feel warm in winter and cool in summer for at least 50 days a year.

In Google's proposed future city, every move would be recorded, raising significant privacy concerns. Small hidden cameras would take low-resolution images of people and cars as they move through the streets.

Sidewalk Labs, a Google subsidiary, previewed technology prototypes to reporters in February. In an early-stage proposal document, Sidewalk reported: “Cities will only meet their growth challenges if they support innovation. . . . To do so requires designing for radical flexibility, enabling the best ideas to be refined in real time and creating a cycle of ongoing improvement."

From Financial Times
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