Google launched its first start-up focused on Smart Cities solutions, Sidewalk Labs.
“Sidewalk Labs is an urban innovation company devoted to improving city life for residents, businesses and city governments, in particular by developing and incubating civic technologies,” says the press release.
Sidewalk Labs arrives as the world continues to migrate toward urban hubs. By 2050, the population in cities will have doubled, intensifying existing socioeconomic, public health and environmental problems. Barcelona’s City Protocol and other Smart Cities solutions from companies such as Cisco and IBM are already putting technology at the service of cities and their residents.
Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and CEO, and Dan Doctoroff, the newly appointed Sidewalk Labs CEO, describe Sidewalk Labs as an “urban innovation company”, geared to developing new technologies to improve city living by reducing pollution, streamlining public transportation, and effectively managing energy use. The company wants to create its own technology and invest in other public and private initiatives.
Dan Doctoroff was New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding during the Bloomberg administration
“We are at the beginning of a historic transformation in cities,” said Doctoroff at the announcement of the new company. “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.”
Larry Page added on his Google+ account: “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.” Mr Page also described Sidewalk Labs as “a relatively modest investment” and one “very different from Google’s core business.”
Nevertheless, the fact that Google has decided to launch a whole new company to focus on urban issues demonstrates the importance of the smart cities movement. New technologies are continuously being developed to help cities manage their resources and improve the quality of life of citizens.
The exponential growth of the Internet of Things, including ubiquitous connectivity and sharing, and the potential of mobile technology to provide effective solutions for cities, is something that Google cannot ignore. That is why Sidewalk Labs could become another reference point for cities seeking out technologies to solve real-world problems.
“Why now? A more urban world + emerging technologies = new opportunities to make cities more livable for everyone” says the company on their Twitter account.