Google is launching an independent company that will use technology to improve city life. Called Sidewalk Labs, It will be lead by Daniel L. Doctoroff, who is former New York City deputy mayor for economic development and former CEO of Bloomberg L.P.
Doctoroff conceived of the idea alongside a Google team lead by Larry Page. Sidewalk Labs is designed as an “urban innovation company” that will investigate sustainable living by curbing pollution and energy use, making transportation easier, providing more green open space and lowering the overall cost of living for residents, businesses and government entities.
Sidewalk Labs intends to develop products and tech platforms that people can “plug into” for managing energy use, improving commutes and more.
According to a blog post by Larry Page:
… a lot of urban challenges are interrelated—for example, availability of transportation affects where people choose to live, which affects housing prices, which affects quality of life. So it helps to start from first principles and get a big-picture view of the many factors that affect city life. Then, you can develop the technologies and partnerships you need to make a difference.
Sidewalk Labs’ strategy involves a combination of building new technology and investing in partnerships. While Google’s investment amount is unclear at the moment, one model could be Calico, a Google-backed company launched in 2013.
Last fall, Calico and AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company, announced their partnership in a research center in the San Francisco Bay Area to study diseases of the aging.
Doctoroff has plenty of experience in managing urban issues after six years of service as deputy mayor, and Google will contribute technical experience and financing to the project.