Sidewalk Labs LLC
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryUrban planning, infrastructure
FoundedJune 10, 2015; 6 years ago (2015-06-10)
HeadquartersNew York, NY, U.S.
Key people
Parent
Websitesidewalklabs.com

Sidewalk Labs is an urban planning and infrastructure subsidiary of Google. Its stated goal is to improve urban infrastructure through technological solutions, and tackle issues such as cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage.[1][2] The company was headed by Daniel L. Doctoroff, former Deputy Mayor of New York City for economic development and former chief executive of Bloomberg L.P.[3] until 2021. Other notable employees include Craig Nevill-Manning, co-founder of Google's New York office and inventor of Froogle, and Rohit Aggarwala, who served as chief policy officer of the company and is now Commissioner of New York City Department of Environmental Protection.[4][5] It was originally part of Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, before being absorbed into Google in 2021 following Doctoroff's departure from the company due to a suspected ALS diagnosis.[6]

Projects

Sidewalk Toronto

Main article: Sidewalk Toronto

An open house at Sidewalk Labs' Toronto office, called "307"
An open house at Sidewalk Labs' Toronto office, called "307"

In April 2016, The Information reported that Sidewalk intended to create a new city in the United States to test design ideas prior to real world implementation.[7] Sidewalk did not confirm that report, but has said it had engaged in thought experiments about what it could be like to develop a community "from the internet up."[8]

In October 2017, Sidewalk Labs announced plans to develop Quayside, a 12-acre (4.9 ha) neighborhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in response to a competition organized by Waterfront Toronto. Branded as Sidewalk Toronto, the project aims to become "a testbed for emerging technologies, materials and processes" to address issues such as sustainability, accessibility, inclusiveness and prosperity in urban communities.[9][10] The initiative is also envisioned to be scaled up across Toronto's Port Lands, an 800-acre (320 ha) area that is one of the largest areas of underdeveloped urban land in North America.[11] The project progressed slowly with ongoing consultation from the public.[12]

In 2018, the company opened a new Toronto office and began holding weekend open houses in which visitors from the public contributed their ideas to the development of the Sidewalk Toronto project.[12] In 2019, Sidewalk Labs said it had consulted thousands of Torontonians for its development plans. However, representatives of Waterfront Toronto's Digital Strategy Advisory Panel (DSAP) said that Sidewalk Labs's projects contained too much "tech for tech's sake."[13][14]

In May 2020, the project was abandoned due to the economic uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.[15][16]

Development Advisory Services

Sidewalk Labs offers advisory services for real estate developers to use technology to meet environmental, affordability, and equity goals. Sidewalk Labs has advised on the following four projects:[17][18]

Traffic flow in the United States

In early 2016, Sidewalk Labs began working with ten cities which participated in the U.S. Department of Transportation's "Smart Cities Challenge" to help cities better understand daily street activity through the use of real-time data. The Challenge attracted dozens of medium-sized cities across the US to compete for $40 million in federal funding[19] along with an additional $10 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation[20] to assess road data gathered from smartphones to analyze congestion and other traffic conditions, and develop a transportation coordination platform to improve the efficiency of road, parking, and transit use.[2][21] The winner, Columbus, Ohio, was announced in June 2016.[22][23]

Products

Investments and portfolio companies

Sidewalk Labs invests in and incubates companies which develop tools that can support Sidewalk Labs initiatives and scale to cities around the world.[27]

Intersection and Link

Main article: Intersection (company)

In June 2015, Sidewalk Labs led a group of investors in the acquisition of Control Group and Titan forming a new company called Intersection.[28] Intersection works in cities and public spaces to offer internet connectivity, information, and content.[29]

Cityblock

Cityblock Health was spun-out of Sidewalk Labs in 2017. Its goal is to improve health care for low-income people with difficult medical needs. It employs over 500 people and has patients in three US states and Washington, DC.[30][31]

Coord

In 2018, Sidewalk Labs introduced a spin-off Coord, a company focused on providing RESTful APIs for accessing information like routing, bike share details, toll information, and curbside details.[32][33] In October 2018, Coord raised an additional $5 million to continue building products.[34]

Replica

Replica is an AI-powered data platform which helps cities make operational or infrastructural changes in response to changes in population behaviors.[35] It began as a project at Sidewalk Labs in 2017 and was spun out as an independent company in 2019.[36]

Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP)

Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP) was spun-off from Sidewalk Labs in 2019 to develop technologies that modernize infrastructure such as recycling, waste disposal and transportation in communities throughout the United States.[37][38]

Ori

Sidewalk Labs invested in Boston-based robotic home interior design company Ori in 2019.[39]

Nico

The Neighborhood Investment Company (Nico) allows local residents to make small, long-term real estate investments in their own neighborhoods. Sidewalk Labs invested in Nico at the end of 2019.[40]

VoltServer

In late 2019, Sidewalk Labs invested in VoltServer, which strives to "make electricity safe" and overlays data on electricity distribution.[41]

The Yellow Book

Sidewalk Labs provides a coffee table book to employees known as The Yellow Book, which contains aspirational designs of a futurist city run on its technology.[42] In the book, the company proposes expanding its scope to include the power to levy taxes, control public services such as schools, roads, and public transportation, collect data on the current and past locations of all members of the community, and to help redesign the local criminal justice system. The book also describes a social credit system to reward "good behavior", a system which has been compared by some to the one used in China. Sidewalk's proposed system also included rewards for sharing personal data.[43]

The book also includes the potential real estate profitability of such investments, containing theoretical proposals for communities in Detroit, Denver, and Alameda, California. The company has described this book as a "wide-ranging brainstorming process", and stated that most of its ideas were never considered for the Toronto project.[43]

References

  1. ^ Rosenfield, Karissa (August 11, 2015). "Google (Alphabet) "Sidewalk Labs" Seeks to Improve City Life". ArchDaily. Archived from the original on August 15, 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Kamran, Bilal (April 6, 2016). "Alphabet Inc Subsidiary Sidewalk Labs Hints at Development Plans for a New City". BidnessEtc. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  3. ^ Lohr, Steve (June 10, 2015). "Sidewalk Labs, a Start-Up Created by Google, Has Bold Aims to Improve City Living". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on June 11, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  4. ^ "Sidewalk Labs, Google's Company for Cities, Builds Its Inaugural Executive Team". Vox. February 22, 2016. Archived from the original on September 8, 2019. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  5. ^ "Sidewalk Labs' Rohit Aggarwala on building Toronto's first smart neighbourhood". MobileSyrup. March 20, 2018. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  6. ^ Lyons, Kim (December 16, 2021). "Sidewalk Labs will be folded into Google as CEO steps down for health reasons". The Verge. Archived from the original on December 17, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  7. ^ Lessin, Jessica (April 14, 2016). "Alphabet's Sidewalk Preps Proposal for Digital District". The Information. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  8. ^ Williams, Jake (May 4, 2017). "Google wants to build a city". Statescoop. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  9. ^ Rider, David (October 4, 2017). "Google firm poised to partner on Toronto high-tech neighbourhood". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  10. ^ "Waterfront Toronto Takes First Step in Building Quayside: A New Community That Will Provide Testbed for Solutions to Pressing Urban Challenges". Waterfront Toronto. March 17, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  11. ^ "Sidewalk Toronto". Sidewalk Toronto. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Keung, Nicholas (June 17, 2018). "Curious minds drawn to opening of Sidewalk Toronto workshop". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on June 17, 2018. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  13. ^ "Google's smart-city plans 'tech for tech's sake'". BBC News. September 12, 2019.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "DSAP Preliminary Commentary and Questions on Sidewalk Labs' Draft Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP)" (PDF).((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Carter, Adam; Rieti, John Rieti (May 7, 2020). "Sidewalk Labs cancels plan to build high-tech neighbourhood in Toronto amid COVID-19". CBC News. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  16. ^ Doctoroff, Daniel L. (May 7, 2020). "Why we're no longer pursuing the Quayside project — and what's next for Sidewalk Labs". Medium. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  17. ^ Rodriguez, Rene (June 22, 2021). "Moishe Mana's massive, long-dormant Wynwood project shows tiny sparks of life". Miami Herald.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Alphabet's Getting Into Commercial Real Estate Consulting, But Not To Throw Google's Weight Around". Bisnow.
  19. ^ Hawkins, Andrew J. (February 22, 2016). "Sidewalk Labs hires 'dream team' to tackle city design in the self-driving age". The Verge.
  20. ^ "All the tech that went into turning Columbus, Ohio, into a 'Smart City'". TechCrunch.
  21. ^ "Sidewalk Labs – Flow". Archived from the original on May 8, 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  22. ^ Marshall, Aarian (June 28, 2021). "America's 'Smart City' Didn't Get Much Smarter". Wired. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  23. ^ Simonite, Tom. "Portland's Face-Recognition Ban Is a New Twist on 'Smart Cities'". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028.
  24. ^ "Sidewalk Labs tool aims to boost building energy efficiency". Smart Cities Dive.
  25. ^ "Sidewalk Labs Reimagines Urban Planning with New Delve Generative Design Tool". ArchDaily. October 13, 2020.
  26. ^ "Sidewalk Labs launches Pebble, a sensor that uses real-time data to manage city parking". TechCrunch.
  27. ^ "Incubated and Portfolio Companies". Sidewalk Labs. May 27, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ D'Onfro, Jillian. "Google is funding a plan to bring free Wi-Fi to NYC". Business Insider. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  29. ^ "Intersection – About Us".
  30. ^ Tozzi, John (December 10, 2020). "Health Startup for Low-Income Patients Hits $1 Billion Valuation". Bloomberg L.P.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ "Public health startup Cityblock raises $65M Series B". TechCrunch.
  32. ^ "Coord will get you there one way or another with its new APIs". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  33. ^ Marshall, Aarian. "Sidewalk Labs Is Building a Platform for Making the City of Tomorrow". Wired. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  34. ^ "Coord, a Sidewalk Labs spin-out, raises $5 million to help mobility services better integrate into cities". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  35. ^ Wolpow, Nina. "Sidewalk Labs Spinout Replica Raises $41 Million Series B". Forbes.
  36. ^ "Sidewalk Labs spinout Replica plans expansion to Europe and Asia". Cities Today. April 27, 2021.
  37. ^ "Sidewalk Labs launches advanced infrastructure partnership". Smart Cities World.
  38. ^ "Exclusive: Alphabet vets raise $400 million to remake America's infrastructure". Fortune.
  39. ^ "Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs leads $20 million round into Ori's robotic furniture for small spaces". VentureBeat. September 5, 2019.
  40. ^ "The Brief: Neighborhood investment companies, inclusive fintech in Indonesia and Nigeria, solar financing in India, tele-health training, letter from Santiago". ImpactAlpha. December 4, 2019.
  41. ^ "VoltServer adds a data layer to electricity distribution in a move that could help smart grid rollout". TechCrunch.
  42. ^ Farr, Christina; D'Onfro, Jillian (June 27, 2018). "Google sister-company Sidewalk has a secret 'yellow book' with its plans to reinvent cities, plus possible sites beyond Toronto". CNBC. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  43. ^ a b Cardoso, Tom; O'Kane, Josh (October 30, 2019). "Sidewalk Labs document reveals company's early vision for data collection, tax powers, criminal justice". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 1, 2019.