The COVID-19 pandemic has infected many vulnerable emerging markets with reduced revenue and increased uncertainty. As recession looms, crucial investment channels are drying up, seemingly creating a divide between those projects that are already underway and those that now face an uphill battle to secure the funding they require to get off the ground. This appears to be the case in the smart cities market, where major projects are being canceled while others find a new sense of purpose in a post-COVID world.
The big smart city cancellation of the COVID-19 era so far is undoubtedly Google’s Sidewalk Labs project in Toronto. The Quayside redevelopment project was still in planning phases, held back by a resolute citizen movement that focused on issues of data privacy and corporate control of typically government roles. Despite impressive designs and bold PR campaigns by Google, local resistance may have been enough to stop the project, however, in the end it was the COVID-19 outbreak and economic downturn that put the final nail in the coffin.