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Amazon HQ2 and Google Smart Cities - What's The Buzz

Escrito por Tony Dillistone el 01/11/2017 a las 20:39:25

(Partner MediaMojos)

Tony Dillistone


There is a lot of talk in Canada and the U.S. lately about Amazon’s search for a location for a second headquarters… and to a lesser extent (perhaps an equal extent in Canada) about Sidewalk Labs (a division of Google’s parent Alphabet Inc.) announcing their plans for a redevelopment of the Toronto waterfront which would bring Smart City technologies to the shores of Lake Ontario… and potentially a new HQ for the Google Canada powerhouse.




By 2050, it’s estimated that 66% of the world population will live in urban areas, and that rise of density is the basis of Smart Cities. The evolution of data-driven Smart Cities can meet the demand for intelligent, sustainable environments that reduce environmental impact and offer residents ease of life through connectivity. Through a 5G-enabled convergence of wireless, cloud, social, and information technologies (providing the intelligence to make Cities “Smart”) Smart Cities bring together technology, government and residents to reduce environmental impact, improve public safety, and optimize civic infrastructure efficiency.


Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper points out that unlike Amazon, which put out a RFP from North American cities which hoped to be a home for its second headquarters, Sidewalk Labs responded to a March 2017 call from Waterfront Toronto (a government agency) for a partner to develop the Waterfront site.


According to the project statement, the jointly named company, Sidewalk Toronto is “… a joint effort by Waterfront Toronto and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to create a new kind of mixed-use, complete community on Toronto’s Waterfront, beginning with the creation of Quayside. Sidewalk Toronto will combine forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create people-centric neighborhoods that achieve precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.”


There are a number of pushbacks and concerns about this by both city officials and residents - encapsulated by an article in The Torontoist recently.


It is given that technology and the Smart City concept are transforming our habits and the routines of our work and personal lives. This means technology companies have to be constantly innovating and creating to compete and thus, it’s increasingly important for companies to be prospering in the right environment, both culturally and geographically.


In the conversation around Amazon and HQ2, Toronto is been considered a strong Canadian frontrunner to host the Company – right behind Vancouver (my personal preference as it is my home-base) however, Vancouver is likely too close to Amazon’s current base in Seattle.


Toronto also recently ranked first in terms of tech job growth, and a 2nd HQ there would give Amazon an East Coast presence, and it would allow the company to attract talent from around the globe in a way that bypasses the ongoing immigration fights plaguing the U.S. market.


Toronto boasts a strong tech culture and workforce and it is already a remarkable Tech hub, which already provides support to talent from different areas of the IT landscape, from web designers and digital marketers to developers and angel investors. Toronto encourages talent to stay in the city, providing both startup and established companies access to the best talent in all aspects of the sector.


It remains to be seen whether Alphabet’s Smart City development here will positively or negatively impact any potential Amazon decision. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the next few months (we’ll keep you abreast) and the ramifications of any decision.