Alphabets’s Sidewalk Labs has taken it upon itself to help turn 16 cities into cities of the future. The company has announced that it has linked arms with US based national advocacy group Transportation For America. The two organizations will be making a joint effort to help 16 cities prepare themselves for some of the most important tech brought changes that are making their way into our lives.
By smart cities, we don’t want you thinking about moving streets and jumping houses. Instead, these cities will be best suited for some important innovations that are being brought about or will be introduced into our lives in the near future. Examples of these technologies include self-driving cars and ride-sharing apps. The cities will also be able to share information with each other so as to share knowledge and discover and overcome pain points.
The 16 cities that have been selected under this initiative include Austin, TX; Denver, CO; Boston, MA; Centennial, CO; Chattanooga, TN; Lone Tree, CO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami-Dade County, FL; Madison, WI; Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN; Nashville, TN; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC.
Rohit Aggarwala, Chief Policy Officer, Sidewalk Labs, was quick to clarify his company’s position here. He said that the aim of the company was in no way associated with selling Google products to these cities, or some other similar endeavor. Instead. Sidewalk’s purpose is to improve transit services and the flow of traffic in these cities by providing these cities with suitable tech assistance.
There are legitimate sensitivities when private sector entities get involved in policy making conversations. We want to stay on the right side of that.
However, Sidewalk may use its Flow transportation platform to help cities identify pain points in its traffic, points where issues occur. Once identified, Flow would be able to help the proper authorities redirect traffic so as to ensure a balanced and consistent flow through out the city. Of course, Sidewalk may eventually end up offering Flow as a product to these cities, with the latter purchasing them.
While Sidewalk keeps stressing that it will be a chance for it to test its products while also helping cities move to the future, the company may just end up conducting some business transactions associated with its tech offerings as well. Meanwhile, this plan is completely separate from Sidewalk’s plans to create a technopolis that would be built from scratch and be smart in the true sense of the word. The company has promised to elaborate upon that topic, in the days to come.
While Sidewalk’s association with Transportation For America is a certain indication that the company will be working to improve the traffic, it will be interesting to see what — if — other changes are brought about as well. While it will be impractical to expect Sidewalk to convert them into something out of iRobot, the collaboration is certainly indication of a future which will see tech heavy corporations helping lead public entities and governments into a better tomorrow.