Google unveils Sidewalk Labs initiative for cities

Bloomberg

Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - Page 14

Google Inc is backing a new business with the goal of bringing innovation and new technology into cities, aiming to improve urban life for residents, businesses and governments.

The initiative, called Sidewalk Labs, is to be headed up by Dan Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York City who more recently was the chief executive of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

The New York-based organization is to “develop technology at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds,” the new company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The investment is “modest” for Google, chief executive Larry Page said in a Web post, without disclosing an amount.

He compared Sidewalk Labs to Google X, Google’s research lab, and Calico, a Google-funded company that focuses on health and well-being.

Google has also been active in building a self-driving car and other technologies beyond its main Web-search advertising business.

“As more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving our urban environments are endless,” Page wrote in the post. “Now it’s time to hit the streets and get to work.”

Sidewalk Labs is to explore how technology can address challenges that extend beyond helping with traffic conditions or finding apartments.

The company plans to build products, platforms and partnerships to tackle issues such as making transportation more efficient, lowering the cost of living and reducing energy usage.

“We are at the beginning of a historic transformation in cities,” said Doctoroff, who left Bloomberg in December last year.

“At a time when the concerns about urban equity, costs, health and the environment are intensifying, unprecedented technological change is going to enable cities to be more efficient, responsive, flexible and resilient,” he said.