Google’s New Sidewalk Labs Project Will Use Tech To Improve Life In Urban Areas

Google is best known for internet search and services but the company also runs a host of other projects that use technology to solve other kinds of problems. The latest of these — known as ‘moon shots’ — is Sidewalk Labs, a company dedicated to improving life in cities and urban areas.

Led by former Bloomberg CEO Dan Doctoroff, New York-based Sidewalk Labs is focused on tackling issues like cost of living, transportation, energy usage and more.

“New technologies are already transforming commerce, media and access to information. However, while there are apps to tell people about traffic conditions, or the prices of available apartments, the biggest challenges that cities face — such as making transportation more efficient and lowering the cost of living, reducing energy usage and helping government operate more efficiently have, so far, been more difficult to address,” the company said in an announcement.

Google CEO Larry Page said that the company’s investment in Sidewalk Labs is relatively modest, but he is optimistic that it can address urban living issues in a more rounded way.

“Every time I talk with Dan I feel an amazing sense of opportunity because of all the ways technology can help transform cities to be more livable, flexible and vibrant,” Page said in a Google+ post. “It’s an area where I hope we can really improve people’s lives, similar to Google[x] and [healthcare-focused] Calico.”

At this point it isn’t entirely clear how Sidewalk Labs will operate or exactly what kind of technology it will produce. Doctoroff — formerly Deputy Mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York — said only that it “will play a major role in developing technology products, platforms and advanced infrastructure that can be implemented at scale in cities around the world.”