Smart Cities

Google Plans To “Build An Entire City From The Internet Up”

Earlier this month we covered Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation wing of Google’s parent company Alphabet. A company, which has as yet done relatively little but, promises to change the very way we live and work. While Sidewalk Labs plans are still somewhat shrouded in mystery, what we do know lets the imagination flow. Announcing the new company in June last year, former New York City deputy mayor, former CEO of Bloomberg LP and Sidewalk Labs CEO, Dan Doctoroff said, “We are at the beginning of a historic transformation in cities… 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”. More recently rumours have surrounded the company’s plans to “build and entire city from the internet up”. The thought provoking line paints a picture of a smart city where information technology is the principal infrastructure because it governs […]

Stay ahead of the pack

with the latest independent smart building research and thought leadership.

Have an account? Login

Subscribe Now for just $200 per year per user (just $17 USD per month) for Access to Quality Independent Smart Building Research & Analysis!

What Exactly Do you Get?

  • Access to Website Articles and Notes. Unlimited Access to the Library of over 1,700 Articles Spanning 10 Years.
  • 10% discount on ALL Memoori Research reports for Subscribers! So if you only buy ONE report you will get your subscription fee back!
  • Industry-leading Analysis Every Week, Direct to your Inbox.
  • AND Cancel at any time
Subscribe Now

Earlier this month we covered Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation wing of Google’s parent company Alphabet. A company, which has as yet done relatively little but, promises to change the very way we live and work. While Sidewalk Labs plans are still somewhat shrouded in mystery, what we do know lets the imagination flow.

Announcing the new company in June last year, former New York City deputy mayor, former CEO of Bloomberg LP and Sidewalk Labs CEO, Dan Doctoroff said, “We are at the beginning of a historic transformation in cities… 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”.

More recently rumours have surrounded the company’s plans to “build and entire city from the internet up”. The thought provoking line paints a picture of a smart city where information technology is the principal infrastructure because it governs everything from roads, to sewers, to sanitation.

“Thinking about [a city] from the internet up is really compelling,” said Doctoroff, in an exclusive interview for The Information. “[Existing] cities are hard. You have people with vested interest, politics, physical space”. Building cities in general is hard, certainly a mammoth task for a young start-up, but perhaps not so mammoth for a company with the backing of Alphabet who announced $20 billion earnings in its first-quarter report this year.

“The people who do planning in cities don’t really understand technology, and technologists actually really don’t understand cities”, Doctoroff said of the task ahead of Sidewalk Labs.It seems the company will act as the bridge between the two, and have a huge influence on the way we live in cities. Imagine highly efficient, green, tech-rich, connected cities. Millennial cities.

So what do we know about Googlopolis?
It will either be built from scratch or take over an appropriate, existing city district. When asked whether “ground up” is how Alphabet will build its digital district, Doctoroff said, “I can’t tell you anything”. While building from scratch seems the easier option, at least technically and politically, a brand new city would have to work hard to attract businesses and residents, and the model of the city would not be very transferable to existing cities.

It will be connected. “Our view is access to Internet at high speeds is as fundamental a right as electricity or water”, Doctoroff said, speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm E conference this month in Carlsbad, California. “Ubiquitous connectivity is fundamental to the smart city of future”.

To date, Sidewalk Labs most public project has been the converted phone booths that make up the LinkNYC connectivity hubs that beam out Wi-Fi internet and provide “civic and consumer applications” at no cost. The new city, or district, will likely take connectivity to an unprecedented level, and put Google services at the forefront of all that happens in that urban area.

It will probably have autonomous vehicles (AV). “Autonomous vehicles will be a reality. They used to be science fiction, but I expect before too long we’ll see AVs in service as taxis in some urban areas. And if we manage them right, they will be great for cities, making streets safer, reducing congestion, and freeing up so much of the valuable real estate we use on parking today.”

Google seem likely to come up against Uber once its self-driving cars get on the road, expect in the Google city which is likely to have AV specific lanes favouring Google AV taxi’s. Even Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk all but admitted this last year on a conference call when he coyly suggested that operating a ride-hailing service would make sense once it could produce autonomous vehicles at scale.

It will change urban housing. AVs on a wide scale would free up large plot of prime real estate previously used for parking, at least in the existing city option. Either way Sidewalk Labs has eluded to improving housing.

“We are still building buildings the same way we did in the 1920s. Building techniques could be a significant area where tech has the potential to radically reduce costs, whether it is in new designs, new materials, and new construction techniques”, said Doctoroff.

Wall Street Journal article on the topic was more direct suggesting that, “Alphabet is putting the final touches on a proposal to get into the business of developing giant new districts of housing, offices and retail within existing cities”.

So it seems fair to assume that, in the new city, Google (or Alphabet) will be at the heart of everything. Some might see that as utopian, where a seemingly good-natured corporation is making things happen. Others may see it as frightening, considering one corporation would assume so much control. The famous mantra of the GOOG IPO was “Don’t be evil”, but it only goes so far when you remember that Alphabet is a public company and as such, has a responsibility to GOOG stock holders.


Most Popular Articles

Allegion 2023 Financials Examined
Security

Allegion Access Control Business & Financials 2023 Examined

In this Research Note, we examine Allegion plc, a pure-play provider of security and access solutions. Our analysis is based on their 2023 annual results, presentation, earnings call and 10K Report. We highlight growth in electronic security products, software and corporate venture capital investments in 2023. Note that we reviewed Allegion’s May 2023 Investor Day […]

KODE Labs Riversouth Austin
Smart Buildings

KODE Labs Smart Buildings Business Examined

In this Research Note, we examine the smart buildings business of KODE Labs, a Detroit-based real estate technology startup founded in 2017. The developer of the KODE OS smart building operating system has featured in Memoori Startups Reports over the last two editions as a company gaining traction. We review its product portfolio, funding, deployments […]

Cambridge Uni Net Zero Buildings
Energy

Net Zero Buildings Explored: Cambridge University’s Civil Engineering Building

The University of Cambridge, in the UK, is known as one of the leading academic institutions in the world and maintaining that reputation in modern times demands progressive strategies such as net zero buildings development. Completed in 2019, the university’s Civil Engineering building has become a beacon of sustainable intentions within a major redevelopment of […]

Subscribe to the Newsletter & get all our Articles & Research Delivered Straight to your Inbox.

Please enter a valid email

Please enter your name

Please enter company name

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy