Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs looks to build entire digital city
Fri 15 Apr 2016
Alphabet’s urban IoT subsidiary Sidewalk Labs has announced a new project which could see the company build a ‘digital district’, and even an entire U.S. city, to test its innovative, smart solutions before rolling them out at a wider scale.
According to a post on The Information [paywalled], Sidewalk Labs is partnering up with over 100 leading urban planners, technologists and consultants to work on a proposal for counties and U.S. states to bid to host the first of the digital communities.
While details have not been confirmed about what the digital city will look like, it is expected to be the test bed for technologies such as driverless cars, new public transport schemes, cutting-edge wireless solutions and new forms of governance and home ownership models.
Sidewalk CEO Don Doctoroff suggested that his team will discuss the new neighbourhood, which could house hundreds of thousands of people, with Alphabet head Larry Page over the coming weeks. Should Page approve the idea, Sidewalk could start to see bids from this year.
The Information suggested that Sidewalk has already been considering areas in Detroit and Denver to study new concepts for housing, infrastructure, and policy.
Speaking at an event earlier this month Doctoroff explained [paywalled] that it “would be a great idea” to build a new city from scratch, but that he couldn’t provide further details. He admitted: “Thinking about a city from the internet up is really compelling, but cities are hard. You have people with vested interest, politics, physical space… But the technology ultimately cannot be stopped.”
Google launched Sidewalk Labs in June last year, with the aim of introducing technological innovation to urban areas. However, with the exception of its plans to roll out of free public Wi-Fi in New York City, it has remained largely silent on its future projects until now.