Google’s earlier projects including autonomous driving cars and high-altitude balloons did send shockwaves around the cyberspace. And now, the search engine giant has another ambitious project up its sleeve, apparently aiming at making city life better. This new initiative is called Sidewalk Labs, which essentially will use technology and innovation to improve urban life at a point in time when US population is migrating to cities, according to the company’s Chief Executive Larry Page.
“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,” Page said in a Google+ post.
Based in New York, the facility will be led by former Bloomberg CEO Dan Doctoroff that’ll focus on core issues like cost of living, transportation, energy requirements and more.
“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,” Page wrote. “So it helps to start from first principles and get a big-picture view of the many factors that affect city life. Then, you can develop the technologies and partnerships you need to make a difference.”
Page further said that Google’s investment in Sidewalk Labs is ‘relatively modest’, though did compare it to Google X and Calico, a company researching health and aging funded by Google. And just like Calico, Sidewalk Labs will be an entirely separate company from Google and isn’t a part of any other division. This implies that Google indeed has a large ownership stake in the new company.
“Every time I talk with Dan I feel an amazing sense of opportunity because of all the ways technology can help transform cities to be more livable, flexible and vibrant,” Page said in a Google+ post. “It’s an area where I hope we can really improve people’s lives, similar to Google[x] and [healthcare-focused] Calico.”
Though how Sidewalk Labs will operate or the kind of technology it’ll come out with is still vague at this point. Google says that this will be a long-term investment, so we would rather not hear about any of its products or news anytime soon.