Google Spinoff Sidewalk Labs Aims To Transform Cities

Never satisfied to rest on its search engine -- or even its Android mobile operating system -- laurels, Google is once again setting out to drive transformation. This time, the company is targeting entire cities.

Google CEO Larry Page introduced the concept on his Google Plus page. He said that most people who were reading his post probably lived in cities. He said that those same people could probably think of plenty of ways to improve their cities, including by having more affordable housing, better public transportation, less pollution, more parks and green spaces, safer biking paths, shorter commutes, and so on.

With that, he introduced Sidewalk Labs, a new Google company that aims to tackle interrelated urban challenges. Transportation availability, for example, impacts where people chose to live. That, in turn, impacts housing prices. And the ripple effect continues into quality of life. Page said it was helpful when city planners operated with these principles in mind so they could get a big picture of this ripple effect and develop the necessary technologies and partnerships.

Can Google Really Do This?

"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, noting that Dan Doctoroff, former CEO of Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York, will lead the new company.

Of course, this is a far cry from search engines and Android operating systems. Then again, so are other Google initiatives, such as self-driving cars and drones. Page said he understood that some folks might be scratching their heads about this particular Google project.

"While this is a relatively modest investment and very different from Google's core business, itEUs an area where I hope we can really improve...

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