Google is starting a new company to improve cities

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Google Launches Startup Sidewalk to Make City Life Better

Google is starting a new, independent urban innovation company called Sidewalk Labs that aims to improve cities, according to a post on Google+ by CEO Larry Page.

Dan Doctoroff, former CEO of Bloomberg and deputy mayor of economic development and rebuilding for New York City, will run the company, which Page describes as a "modest investment" for Google that could hopefully "improve the lives of billions of people around the world."

Sidewalk Labs will focus on building new products, platforms and partnerships to address major issues like cost of living, efficient transportation, and energy usage.

"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," Doctoroff said in a press release on the company's new website.

Page describes Sidewalk's mission as supercharging existing efforts around solving problems that city dwellers face every day.

"Making long-term, 10X bets like this is hard for most companies to do, but Sergey and I have always believed that it's important," Page writes. "And as more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving our urban environments are endless."

Here's Page's full post:

Many of you are reading this post while living in a city. And you can probably think of a ton of ways you'd like your city to be better—more affordable housing, better public transport, less pollution, more parks and green spaces, safer biking paths, a shorter commute... the list goes on!

Many cities around the world have already made a lot of progress in some of these areas—for instance, developing dashboards to measure and visualize traffic patterns, and building tools that let residents instantly evaluate and provide feedback on city services. But a lot of urban challenges are interrelated—for example, availability of transportation affects where people choose to live, which affects housing prices, which affects quality of life. So it helps to start from first principles and get a big-picture view of the many factors that affect city life. Then, you can develop the technologies and partnerships you need to make a difference.

So I'm very excited about +Sidewalk Labs​, a new company we've announced today. (The press release is at www.sidewalkinc.com if you want to read more). 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. The company will be led by Dan Doctoroff, former CEO of Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York. Every time I talk with Dan I feel an amazing sense of opportunity because of all the ways technology can help transform cities to be more livable, flexible and vibrant. I want to thank +Adrian who helped to bring Dan on board.

While this is a relatively modest investment and very different from Google's core business, it's an area where I hope we can really improve people's lives, similar to Google[x] and Calico. Making long-term, 10X bets like this is hard for most companies to do, but 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!

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