Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs is planning to build a high-tech city that can test self-driving cars, public transport and more.
Sidewalk Labs was created to address various problems in cities such as pollution, traffic congestion, limited connectivity, inadequate public transportation and more.
Reports suggest that Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, and his team are planning to meet Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet, and discuss Project Sidewalk. If Page likes the idea, then Sidewalk Labs may start its work on building high-tech cities.
"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," said Page. "While this is a relatively modest investment and very different from Google's core business, it's an area where I hope we can really improve people's lives."
The Project Sidewalk team is reportedly working with more than 100 city planning experts and is also considering several models.
Technological advancements have been transforming the way people access information. Mobile apps can inform people of traffic and weather conditions, price of apartments and more. However, certain important aspects such as reducing the cost of living and reducing energy usage remain challenging.
The main aim of Project Sidewalk is to address these issues and also test new technologies before they are rolled out to big cities.
Sidewalk Labs is expected to either own the land for the project or get another company to own the land. However, it wants an area that can accommodate hundreds of thousands of people.
The company is said to be studying some areas around Denver and Detroit to learn how to manage aspects such as housing, policy and infrastructure. The cost of the project may vary depending on the support received from Alphabet, other partners and the local government.
Experts believe that, since the project involves real estate, it is highly likely to make a profit.
Building an entire city from scratch involves major challenges, but Sidewalk Labs' own district could help the company understand urban governance through technology. So far, the group's only project is the LinkNYC initiative for public Wi-Fi in New York.
Doctoroff is the former deputy mayor of New York City, which means that his knowledge in building a new city will be invaluable for Sidewalk Labs.
"Thinking about a city from the internet up is really compelling, but cities are hard. You have people with vested interest, politics, physical space ... But the technology ultimately cannot be stopped," said Doctoroff.
Neither Sidewalk Labs nor Alphabet has revealed anything on Project Sidewalk or about developing a city from scratch.
It remains to be seen if and when Sidewalk Labs actually starts building a city, which could help dream up a new urban landscape.
Photo: Travis Wise | Flickr