It’s Official – Google District – Ground Breaking – Today

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LinkedIn Pulse | Sydney Eatz | Oct 17, 2017

Google parent company Alphabet announces ground breaking Sidewalk Labs - Google District

The neighbourhood of the future.  Remember - May 11th - 2017 - this article from Co-moderator of Google Local guides moderator. Richard Trus - reprinted with his permission

With the recent announcement that Sidewalk Labs LLC, the urban innovation unit of Alphabet Inc, has applied to develop the 12 acre site Quayside property there have been many who have been scratching their heads.

What is a Google District? Why Toronto?

Don't worry if you don't get it - what is Google up to? Google is known for research and development and coming out with projects that in the beginning pivot into larger products for the company. Most of these Google products become part of your daily routine. If you have ever used Streetview - the companion to Google Maps that let's you see panorama's of where you are going in 360 - well that project started out 17 years ago as the Stanford City Block project.

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For the past 17 years pre-visualization has slowly taken form in projects across North America. Pre-visualization is a requirement for simulation and training that are used by major corporations and governments now.

Having been involved in one of the largest pre-visualization projects in the world - the product you see, is often not necessarily the product that is produced. For example the military needs to train soldiers. In order to get the assets (video of explosions, gun fire, helicopters) they partner with film and television companies. So you as the consumer see the final product of a movie like Terminator, while the pre-visualization assets are used by the military in training. It's a win-win scenario as the cost of film production is subsidized to produce content for pre-visualization and it gives both the movie viewer and the soldier trainee a high quality video to experience.

Moving to the Google District Toronto - pre-visualizing decisions in cities has always been an expensive proposition. There was no way to test alternatives for example of building a subway line and the economic benefits or problems associated with it, until you actually built the subway.

Now with pre-visualization you can use a 3D model of the city to test out A/B testing and find the best route, the problems to avoid and how to best accomplish city planning goals.

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For the past year a group that I have been one of the moderators have been building a 3D model of the city of Toronto as the progression of technology has always followed three stages. Text - Image - Sound - Video - 3D - this has been repeated in industries over and over again. Industries progress in a linear fashion in media - the newspaper - to telegraph - to radio - to TV - to Internet 3D.

The world of Maps is also making that transition - from paper maps now to 3D - both panorama's to complete 3D models. A mentor of mine once described it best as the "Long nose of Innovation" that any technology that is going to impact our lives today is technology that has been around for at least 10 years.

So as pre-visualization seems new to most - it has been around for almost 25 years. One of the problems was that 25 years ago - a terrabyte of storage didn't exist, internet connection was starting, and there were no mobile devices. So many of us had to wait for the technology to catch up to fix the problems that prevented technology like pre-visualization to be used by the masses.

Why Toronto?  Toronto is now one of the best mapped cities in the world. Recently Toronto placed 4th worldwide in a Global competition

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