Soon to Rise—Alphabet’s Own High-Tech City?

IN BRIEF

Google’s Sidewalk Labs seems to be working to solicit bids from various locals in an effort to build a high-tech “digital district” to test its technologies.

SIDEWALK LABS

Last June, Alphabet incubated a company called Sidewalk Labs. The organization’s job was to “fix cities”—which was a pretty vague description for a company. So far, the only major project that Sidewalk Labs has been associated with is the LinkNYC project, which is meant to offer public WiFi in New York.

Image Credit: Sean O’Kane
Image Credit: Sean O’Kane

As speculations regarding its purpose ran rampant, one particularly provocative (albeit, far reaching) idea stood out: Could Alphabet, under Sidewalk Labs, possibly be building its own city—filled with all of Alphabet’s advanced technology and Google’s vision of what a connected, efficient techno-utopia should be?

As ambitious as the idea sounds, theorists could be right. Today, reports that Sidewalk is looking to build this digital district in certain parts of Denver and Detroit just surfaced.

TESTBED

This would essentially mean that this district would serve as a “testbed for new technologies from superfast Internet to autonomous cars.”

According to reports, a number of urban planners, researchers, and technologists are already involved in the creation of this city, with names that include Stuart Miller, the CEO of home builder Lennar, Anthony Townsend, research director of Institute of the Future, Stanford professor Balaji Prabhakar, and Harvard economist Ed Glaeser. The consulting firm McKinsey has also been advising.

But is there any truth to these reports?

According to Recode, “A rep for Sidewalk Labs dubbed this ‘speculation’ and refused to comment on it. An Alphabet rep declined, too.” Which leaves us with little else to do but just wait and see.

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