Google, Dan Doctoroff Look to Tech for Urban Fix
New York is arguably the world’s greatest city, but the shortcomings of its aging infrastructure and the rising cost of living are sources of everyday gripes across the five boroughs. Can such macro urban challenges ever be conquered? Google and former NYC deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff certainly think so. On Thursday Dan and Google co-founder Larry Page unveiled an initiative that will look to technology for solutions to the urban landscape’s most daunting challenges. Sidewalk Labs will be based in New York. Google will provide funding; Dan will serve as CEO. The idea is to foster technological innovations that will bring greater efficiencies and resiliency to the urban environment. “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,” Larry wrote on Google+ Thursday.
Dan, who formerly served as CEO of Bloomberg following a long stint as former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding, will head up Sidewalk. He says that Sidewalk is especially needed because of the ongoing transformation and rebirth of 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,” Dan says.
Sidewalk is far different than Google’s bread-and-butter of Internet search and online advertising, but Larry noted that it's in keeping with Google X, a research lab, and Calico, a Google-backed operation focusing on health. Larry did not disclose how much cash Google will put toward Sidewalk, but he said that he and Sergey Brin see the venture as a way for the company to further the public good the world over. “Sergey and I have always believed that it’s important. And as more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving our urban environments are endless. Now it’s time to hit the streets and get to work!”