Sidewalk Toronto is doing all it can to bring in commentary from the community it will soon become a part of.
Applications to become a Sidewalk Toronto Fellow are now open and run until March 9. Fellows will travel throughout North America and Europe to learn how different cities are revitalizing their waterfronts and bringing in new urban technologies.
“We are looking for 12 smart, creative, and caring people who are interested in the future of Toronto’s waterfront and how we can responsibly incorporate technology to improve urban life,” reads the application page.
Prospective applicants should be passionate about Toronto, interested in new technology and be collaborative and creative. They should also be comfortable with the English language, have a valid passport and able to attend every section of the fellowship.
Sidewalk Toronto is the joint effort from Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs. Last October, The Google-owned Sidewalk Labs made international headlines when they were selected to transform a segment of Toronto’s waterfront into what they call “Quayside” in an attempt to mix people-friendly urban design with cutting-edge technology. It was more than just incorporating smart city elements—it was building an entire smart neighbourhood.
This Fellows program will allow 12 different 19-24-year-olds who call Toronto home a chance to look into how the city is planning and managing its growth. These Fellows will come from different backgrounds and fields and study how their home city can integrate Quayside and make it a model for inclusive and technologically advanced living.
“The program is intended to help ensure that early career Torontonians have an opportunity to benefit from and contribute to the planning process for Quayside,” reads the site.
If selected, a Fellow will attend a two-day orientation before embarking on three study trips: six days in Amsterdam and Copenhagen; five days in New York City and Boston; and three days in Vancouver. These trips are spread over the course of two months, and afterward, the Fellows will have a final two-day working session in Toronto before presenting their findings to Sidewalk Toronto in October.
The program seems like a deliberate attempt by Sidewalk Toronto to do as much as they can to listen to and involve the community in their decision-making process. The company has faced criticism from both politicians and the public that they will eschew community commentary and look to simply make Toronto and Quayside a technological powerhouse.
Sidewalk Toronto is covering all costs for the selected Fellows, from meals to plane tickets to travel insurance. Pamela Robinson will travel with the Fellows and act as an urban academic advisor along with helping to select the participants themselves and craft a curriculum. Robinson is an associate professor at Ryerson University and an expert in open data and civic technology.
To apply, applicants must submit two reference letters as well as written answers to a few Sidewalk Toronto questions. The full details can be found here. An interview process will begin on March 24 where Sidewalk Toronto will speak with 30 candidates and then narrow it down to 12 by April 12.