Sidewalk Labs is dead. Can a manufactured smart city ever succeed?

This week, Daniel L. Doctoroff announced that he’s stepping down from his role of CEO at Sidewalk Labs due to serious health conditions. Sidewalk has been limping along since the end of the Quayside project. Now, starting next year, Sidewalk products Pebble, Mesa, Delve, and Affordable Electrification will join Google, becoming core to Google’s urban sustainability product efforts. 

The founders started Sidewalk Labs with good intentions, but it exemplifies how manufactured smart cities fail. 

The sordid history of Sidewalk Labs 

In 2017, Sidewalk Labs announced plans for a high-tech neighborhood in Toronto called Quayside. Planned for  Toronto’s waterfront, it focused on  “environmental sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.”