Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs plans to build the ultimate high-tech city

The 'digital district' could house 'hundreds of thousands'

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Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs was founded with the aim of improving city living, but before it can implement its design ideas, it needs somewhere to test them. So rather than rely on projections, the Google spinoff is taking a more practical approach — it wants to build its own city. The Information reports that Sidewalk Labs is moving ahead with “Project Sidewalk,” a plan to create a district in which it can trial self-driving cars, Wi-Fi solutions, new public transport, and other city planning advances that modern technology make possible.

The company has reportedly been working with more than a 100 experts in the field, and is currently deciding whether it wants to own land outright on which it can build a planned community that could house “hundreds of thousands of people,” or if it wants to accept bids from counties for its city of the future. The team working on Project Sidewalk will reportedly bring Project Sidewalk in front of Alphabet CEO Larry Page in the near future — if he’s on board, existing towns and cities across the US may be able to start bidding for the hosting rights as soon as this year.

COUNTIES MAY BID TO HOST THE CITY, OR ALPHABET MAY BUY LAND

It’s an ambitious goal for Sidewalk Labs, which hired a “dream team” of experts earlier this year, after acquiring a company in the midst of installing high-speed Wi-Fi hubs across New York City. The company has been cagey on exactly what it was working on so far, with CEO Dan Doctoroff telling The Verge that figuring out how to adapt cities for self-driving cars was just one aspect of his plans.

Doctoroff did, however, hint at Sidewalk Labs’ ambitious plan to build a city earlier this month. Speaking at an event hosted by The Information, Doctoroff said that “thinking about a city from the Internet up is really compelling, but cities are hard. You have people with vested interest, politics, physical space.” But, he went on, “the technology ultimately cannot be stopped.”

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