Sidewalk Labs — Google parent company Alphabet's urban innovation arm — unveils a plan for constructing its own metropolis for testing smart city and connected technologies at scale.
Sidewalk Labs, which Google kickstarted almost two years ago, may soon develop a “large-scale district” to serve as a living laboratory for urban innovation technologies, Dan Doctoroff, founder and CEO of the company, said at the Smart Cities NYC conference Thursday.
The company is having conversations now with city leaders across the country, Doctoroff said. While nothing is final, Sidewalk Labs could hold a competition — similar to the one held by the U.S. Department of Transportation last year — to spur excitement from leaders who want to make their cities smarter, while also providing a national model for what the cities of tomorrow look like.
“The future of cities lies in the way these urban experiences fit together and improve quality of life for everyone living, working and growing up in cities across the world,” Doctoroff said. “Yet there is not a single city today that can stand as a model — or even close — for our urban future.”
This city would be “built from the internet up,” Doctoroff said, and would test the theories and models that the company has asserted since its creation.
“We’ve found that applying urban innovations at scale could reduce cost of living by 14 percent compared to surrounding metro areas for an average family in America,” Doctoroff said.
But the focus on building a city like the one Google envisions goes beyond just reducing cost of living — construction would center around altering five “urban experiences” through the use of technology:
Housing and real estate
- Housing and real estate
- Environmental sustainability
- A new “public realm”
- Data-driven city services
The company would partner with construction and technology companies to investigate the feasibility of modular housing — pre-made portions of housing units — embedded with sensors that track structural health. The modular housing would be designed with the resident’s space usage needs in mind and made replicable to other spaces across the globe.
The approach could reduce construction costs by up to 30 percent, Doctoroff said.
Doctoroff called for a “mobility system that is more convenient than the private automobile” and involved a mix of ridesharing, public transit, driverless cars, walking and cycling.
Once again, by eliminating the existing constraints on public transit — which Doctoroff said are often big limitations on funding and use — a newly-built city environment like the one Sidewalk is proposing would not be inhibited by these restraints.
“When you combine these advances, you get a mobility system that’s every bit as convenient as a private car, while saving families thousands of dollars a year,” Doctoroff said.
The city would set “a new standard of sustainability,” Doctoroff said, by implementing thermal transfer technologies to save on heating and cooling costs and cut down on wasted energy.
New water pipe systems would help residents save and reuse non-potable water, and sensor-enabled garbage shoots would reduce solid waste by automatically separating trash, recyclables and compostable materials.StateScoop, for all your state and local government IT news.
A new ‘public realm’
Sidewalks, parks and in-person experiences define life within a city, Doctoroff said.
“New York City and every great city is lived in its parks and spaces that we share, but that space is often limited by water, vehicles in traffic and poor maintenance,” Doctoroff said. “How can technology improve it?”
Echoing back to the transportation urban experience, he suggested self-driving vehicles would help return city space to cyclists and pedestrians. Alongside other technologies, they could “double the amount of public space per capita.”
Advances in plastics and retractable canopies could improve quality of life in cities, covering pedestrians or cyclists while on the roads. Sensor arrays – like Chicago’s Array of Things — can monitor air quality and assess conditions and usage in public spaces, making it easier for cities to respond to public needs.
Data-driven city services
None of the technologies included in Sidewalk Labs proposed city environment would be possible, Doctoroff said, without an infrastructure backbone for connectivity....MORE
"Alphabet is plotting a digital city full of Google cars, high-speed Internet and maybe more!" (GOOG)
"Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs is eyeing a contest to build its own internet city" (GOOG)
Here's Google's Sidewalk Labs' Pitch To Insert Itself Into America’s Urban Transportation Infrastructure (GOOG)
No, Google's Sidewalk Labs Doesn't Want To Take Over Urban Transit. Yet. (GOOG)
No, they have bigger plans.
There is big money and big politics behind this stuff and this June 2016 article is a good primer on what's coming....
"Google’s sister company wants to be in charge of public transportation"
"2016 Google Tracker: Everything Google is working on for the new year" (now mit umlauts and not just in the Hästkött)