Note from Storm: We don’t normally print press releases in REVITALIZATION, but this one is potentially very significant, if for no reason beyond who is behind it. Google has announced the creation of a company focused on improving cities. Granted, they’re a little late to the “smart city” game: IBM, Cisco, and Siemens have been in that space for a while. But maybe Google can take advantage of their late entry to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors, which are many. Of course, Google’s record in rolling out new products and entering new markets has been pretty awful, but Sidewalk Labs has been set up as a separate entity on the opposite side of the country (New York City), so maybe it will fare better.
From the press release: Sidewalk Labs is an urban innovation company devoted to improving city life for residents, businesses and city governments, in particular by developing and incubating civic technologies.
Dan Doctoroff, the former CEO of Bloomberg LP and Deputy Mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York, and Google today announced the formation of Sidewalk Labs, an urban innovation company that will develop technology at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds, with a focus on improving city life for residents, businesses and governments.
Dan will be the CEO of Sidewalk Labs, which will be based in New York City. The company will combine Dan’s experience in building and managing cities, with Google’s funding and support.
The announcement of Sidewalk Labs comes as the world is continuing a massive urban shift. At the same time, new technologies – including ubiquitous connectivity and sharing, the internet of things, dynamic resource management and flexible buildings and infrastructure – are emerging to allow cities and citizens to tackle problems in real time.
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.
Sidewalk Labs will develop new products, platforms and partnerships to make progress in these areas.
Announcing the new company, Dan said: “We are at the beginning of a historic transformation in cities. At a time when the concerns about urban equity, costs, health and the environment are intensifying, unprecedented technological change is going to enable cities to be more efficient, responsive, flexible and resilient. We hope that Sidewalk will play a major role in developing technology products, platforms and advanced infrastructure that can be implemented at scale in cities around the world.”
Larry Page said: “By improving urban technology, it’s possible to significantly improve the lives of billions of people around the world. With Sidewalk, we want to supercharge existing efforts in areas such as housing, energy, transportation and government to solve real problems that city-dwellers face every day. Every time I talk with Dan I feel an amazing sense of opportunity because of his passion for all the ways technology can help transform cities to be more livable, flexible and vibrant. And when you combine that with his experience as an investor, in NYC government, and as CEO of the large information company Bloomberg LP, I can’t imagine a better person to lead these efforts.”
Dan Doctoroff is one of the world’s leading urban visionaries and a champion of leveraging technology and data for social change. As the CEO of Bloomberg LP, the leading provider of financial information, Dan led the company through the financial crisis, nearly doubled company revenue in seven years, diversified into new products and markets and dramatically increased the size and influence of its news organization. Prior to Bloomberg, Dan led a wholesale reimagining of New York City’s physical and economic landscape as the City’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding.
He spearheaded the effort to revive New York after the attacks of 9/11 through a five-borough economic development strategy which included the most ambitious land-use transformation in the city’s modern history; the largest affordable housing program ever launched by an American city; and the creation of PlaNYC, New York’s pathbreaking sustainability plan, which has become a model for integrated urban planning around the world. Dan was previously a Managing Partner at Oak Hill Capital Partners, a private equity investment firm.