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Google Ramps Up City-Making Business With New Transport App

Congestion in New York

The division of Google dedicated to the future of cities is rolling out a new app designed to help coordinate different urban transportation systems, from buses and subways to bike shares and, in the future, driverless cars.

Sidewalk Labs last week unveiled Coord, a platform that allows companies making navigation and transportation apps to connect up to each other. Almost every app uses different technology, so at the moment they cannot connect and work out the real quickest, cheapest or most efficient transport route for users.

Coord will also allow different apps to measure things like the location of available parking spots, legal curb space or toll pricing. Another tool developed by Coord called Surveyor allows the user to take a photo of a block and digitize any curbside parking restrictions through an analysis of parking signs.

The process for a city block takes about four minutes, Coord said, and will allow cities to reallocate curbside parking and allow drivers to better legal parking spots spots. It aims to reduce congestion related to looking for parking, and the need for ride-hail taxis to stop illegally.
Coord will dovetail with driverless technology when this becomes more ubiquitous.

Coord has made the technology behind the platform available to use for all app developers to get as many users on to the platform as possible.

“Transportation in the 20th century was all about connecting cities with new roads. The challenge of the 21st century is coordinating the roads and streets that already exist to improve convenience, cost, and economic opportunity,” Coord Chief Executive Stephen Smyth said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to a future where people can reach great jobs without owning a car, where local government is free to invest in transit service or road maintenance rather than new roads, and where companies and cities can work together to make streets that work for everyone.”