IUR director Guy Baeten to give the 23rd IRS International Lecture on Society and Space.

Adriana de La Peña Espinosa RECOMMENDATIONS smart cities, urban planning

Professor Guy Baeten will give a lecture at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space, titled Privatising through ‘smart’ and its implications for urban planning: the case of Sidewalk Labs’ masterplan for Quayside, Toronto.

This talk argues that there is a gap separating planning practice and the technical and legal requirements that smart city technologies entail. A pertinent case is Quayside, Toronto, where Sidewalk Labs (part of Alphabet and a sister company of Google) and Waterfront Toronto (a three-level public governance agency) joined forces in the development of a new urban area. Ultimately abandoned in 2020, the experiences lasted for 2.5 years and offered generous testimonies of the conflicting demands of (private) urban technologies and (public) urban planning. Focusing on the 1500-page Masterplan, this paper outlines the principal points of attention (e.g., the setup of parallel authorities, control of procurement procedures and the setting of technical standards) and argues that these represent ‘gaps’ to which urban planning needs to develop a firm response, or else risk planning authority shifting away from public governance.

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