Google Sidewalk Labs Targets Smart City Life

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New startup Sidewalk Labs looks to develop unique technology to benefit the urban dweller

Google has made a “modest” investment in a New York-based startup that aims to “focus on improving city life for everyone by developing and incubating urban technologies.”

The startup, called Sidewalk Labs,is headed up by Dan Doctoroff, former CEO of Bloomberg and deputy mayor of economic development and rebuilding for New York, and says its mission statement is to “improve life in cities for everyone through the application of technology to solve urban problems.”

City Slickers

This is because according to Google CEO Larry Page, there are a number of issues with living in a city.

Problems and issue for city folk be could “more affordable housing, better public transport, less pollution, more parks and green spaces, safer biking paths, a shorter commute… the list goes on!” Page wrote in a Google+ blog announcing the news.

data centre power dcim electricity pue © watcharakun Shutterstock“Sidewalk will focus on improving city life for everyone by developing and incubating urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage,” wrote Page. “While this is a relatively modest investment and very different from Google’s core business, it’s an area where I hope we can really improve people’s lives, similar to Google[x] and Calico.”

“Making long-term, 10X bets like this is hard for most companies to do, but Sergey and I have always believed that it’s important,” he added.

“And as more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving our urban environments are endless.”

So it seems as though the new start will focus on dealing with the core challenges that cities face including making transportation more efficient, lowering the cost of living, reducing energy usage and helping government operate more efficiently.

“Sidewalk Labs will develop new products, platforms and partnerships to make progress in these areas,” the company said in a statement summing up its partnership with Google.

“We are at the beginning of a historic transformation in cities,” said CEO Dan Doctoroff. “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.

“We hope that Sidewalk will play a major role in developing technology products, platforms and advanced infrastructure that can be implemented at scale in cities around the world.”

IBM Smart Cities

Google already its finger in developing a super-connected smart world, via the Google Nest unit. It acquired the company in January 2014 for $3.2bn (£2bn).

And Sidewalk Labs seems to be focusing on an area that IBM has already been working for a number of years now. IBM has invested heavily in its “smart cities” approach, which aims to make cities both smarter and indeed greener.

Earlier this year, IBM also announced a major expansion of its Internet of Things (IoT) business as it looks to play a bigger role in helping organisations better interact with the world around them. It pledged $3 billion (£2bn) over the next four years in building up a new IoT unit that is able to deal with the increasingly huge amounts of data being produced every day.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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