A morning roundup of the day’s news.
Whose data is it anyway?: Some privacy advocates have sounded the alarm on Sidewalk Labs’s plans to create a new high-tech innovation district on Toronto’s waterfront, noting the incentives for parent company Alphabet (Google’s owner) to collect personal data from residents. In an interview with GeekWire, Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff emphasizes the ongoing conversation to address these concerns:
Doctoroff ... hopes that the Toronto project can become a testbed, not just for smart city innovations but for government oversight, as well. He says that in order to engender trust and create a pilot for the city of the future, it is important “not to use the data for commercial purposes but instead only to use it for the quality of life.”
When pressed, Doctoroff said that while data sharing isn’t in Sidewalk Labs’s ethos, he can’t say with definitive certainty what will happen with the information collected in Quayside. That’s because, at this stage, it isn’t clear who will own the data.
“There may be alternate structures that we don’t control, that public entities control,” he said. “We don’t know. That’s part of the conversation.”
Puerto Rico recovery: In what some are deeming a “Marshall Plan” for Puerto Rico, Senator Bernie Sanders is unveiling a $146 billion proposal to use renewable power sources like wind and solar to meet the majority of the island’s energy needs—while also retiring Puerto Rico’s debt and boosting federal funds for transportation, health, and education. The bill has backing from San Juan’s mayor, but faces stiff chances in Congress. (Washington Post)
Immigration crackdown goes local: Dozens of local police agencies have joined a special program aiding the White House’s efforts to tamp down illegal immigration—and at least 38 more departments are interested, according to a Reuters investigation. The program trains local officers to vet arrestees on immigration status and turn them over to the feds.
Homeless camp cleanup: Clearing out encampments has become routine practice for the local government in D.C., part of the city’s mantra to make homelessness “rare, brief and nonrecurring.” But as the homeless population explodes, some advocates question the morality and utility of the strategy. (Washington Post)
Mimicking Main Street: The trend of developers creating “Main Street-style” town centers in the midst of suburban areas comes with its own set of challenges, according to an Urban Land Institute analysis that notes these disconnected communities “cannot truly emulate the spontaneity, vitality, and diversity of a traditional main street.”
Closing the gender gap: Tackling gender inequity in urban cycling requires better bike infrastructure, yes, but also a nuanced understanding of the social stigmas that stop women from embracing biking, as Fast Company explores.
The urban lens:
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