Sidewalk Labs CEO seeing 'a lot' of interest from other Canadian cities
The chief executive officer of Sidewalk Labs LLC says it’s up to government to decide what to do with the data collected at the Toronto Quayside project, not his company.
“What we’ve done is merely offer some suggestions based on a lot of research, a lot of thinking, a lot of talking, a lot of feedback, not just with privacy regulators here in Canada with people all over the world,” Sidewalk labs CEO Dan Doctoroff told BNN Bloomberg in an interview taped on Monday. “We look forward to government taking a lead role in setting whatever standard it is. And whatever standard they put in place, we’re happy to live by.”
“With respect to data, and whatever privacy or data regime gets implemented: It’s not for us, at the end of the day, to decide what’s right. It’s actually for government to do that.”
Sidewalk Labs announced Monday it was teaming up with partners to invest $1.3 billion to get the planned Toronto tech city off the ground.
The project has faced criticism and even a lawsuit launched in April by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association aimed at the federal, provincial and municipal governments involved over its plans to collect data and concerns over how it could potentially be deployed.
Doctoroff’s says Sidewalk Labs is proposing a more “democratic” approach to data that’s already being collected.
“You think about data, think about what happens out on the street today: It’s completely unregulated,” Doctoroff said. “Anyone can throw up a camera. Anybody can throw up a sensor. They’re collecting information on you: Where you are. What you’re doing.”
“We’re saying: ‘Stop. That’s not right. What’s right is that a government-led, government-sanctioned entity should control it, and people – like us or others – should have to apply and demonstrate that the value of it is greater than the cost.’”
Doctoroff added that in exchange for increased access to data, Toronto will benefit from an increased in much needed modern, affordable housing in Toronto’s downtown core.
“What’s clear is that [housing costs] have been skyrocketing for a long time and that people are deeply, deeply troubled by that. Just in the year-and-a-half we’ve been active in Toronto, we’ve seen in public opinion polls [it’s shot] to being number one among the issues that Torontonians are concerned about,” he said.
“It isn’t going to change, absent a really different approach, because one of the great things about Toronto is it’s inclusive and open and people want to come here because it’s such a great city.
“But, if you don’t provide them with the capacity as well as the tools to enhance affordability you’re not going to fundamentally alter that equation.”