Google has always had big ideas — think self-driving cars, Google Glass and a biotech venture that aims at extending life, among others. This time, the Internet giant wants to take on a messy, real-world problem: cities. Google's new Sidewalk Labs will tackle city living as an independent company that will use technology and innovation to improve urban life.
CEO Larry Page said in a statement that Sidewalk will be "developing and incubating urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage." The new company — which Page described Google will have "relatively modest investment" in — is helmed by Dan Doctoroff, former deputy mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding for New York City and former Bloomberg CEO. It will be based in NYC.
Many cities around the world have already made a lot of progress in some of these areas — for instance, developing dashboards to measure and visualize traffic patterns, and building tools that let residents instantly evaluate and provide feedback on city services. But a lot of urban challenges are interrelated — for example, availability of transportation affects where people choose to live, which affects housing prices, which affects quality of life.
Doctoroff said in the Sidewalk press release that he hoped the new company will have a hand in "developing technology products, platforms and advanced infrastructure that can be implemented at scale in cities around the world."
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[Cover image via iStock]