Toronto already scores top marks on many global rankings. This year alone the city was named the fourth Most Livable City in the World according to The Economist’s Global Liveability Report, one of the Top 10 Most Reputable Cities in the World according to a survey by Boston-based Reputation Institute (an honour which we also scored in 2016), and the Most Diverse City in the World, as named by BBC Radio. Our city rocks. And with the recent announcement of a partnership between Waterfront Toronto and Google-owned Sidewalk Labs to develop Sidewalk Toronto, a new technology-driven waterfront district, Toronto’s future looks remarkably bright.

What exactly does a high-tech partnership with one of the world’s most ubiquitous technology companies look like? In a 220-page document released last month, Sidewalk Labs detailed plans for a smart city where streets are navigated by self-driving cars, intelligent signals manage traffic, freight robots move cargo in underground tunnels, and wired pathways literally melt the snow. Cameras and sensors will gather and leverage data about traffic, noise, air quality, and the performance of city systems (including trash bins and the electrical grid) to guide operations, making the neighbourhood cleaner, safer, and more efficient for residents and visitors alike.

This is just the beginning. The 12-acre Quayside neighbourhood, encompassing 3.3 million square feet of residential, office and commercial space (including a new headquarters for Google Canada) will be a testing ground. If successful, Sidewalk Toronto may eventually encompass 800 acres on the shores of Lake Ontario, North America’s largest smart city and a trailblazing example of how data-driven technology can improve the quality of city life.

“Sidewalk Toronto will transform Quayside into a thriving hub for innovation and a community for tens of thousands of people to live, work, and play,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement. Sidewalk’s goal is “reimagining cities from the Internet up,” starting right here in our home and native land. Truly remarkable.