Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The American GeniusThe American Genius

Tech News

Alphabet is re-imagining city planning in a drastic new way

(TECH NEWS) Google’s parent company Alphabet has started toying around with the idea of building a city fro the ground up and they seem serious.


Google’s always been about thinking big

Whether the House of Brin, Page and Pichai is annotating your photos with the sum of human knowledge or building vaguely menacing holodeck robots, they can never be faulted for falling short in scale or imagination. Even their failures are spectacular: say what you like about Google Glass – and I will, Glass was an overhyped, underfeatured, deeply ethically troubling modern embodiment of Doing Tech Wrong – it was swinging for the digital fences.

But now they’re literally thinking big, as in, square mileage. Alphabet wants to build cities.

Sidewalk Labs

Meet Sidewalk Labs, the latest interesting offering from Alphabet. Just as a refresher, Alphabet is “Google, but for everything,” a conglomerate formed last year to expand the scope of the company (see what I mean about Google and size?) beyond the Google banner. Structurally, Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet; it’s where the tech lives. Obviously, to date it’s also been the face of the Alphabet brand.

If Sidewalk Labs accomplishes anything like their stated intentions, that may change with a quickness.

To use their own favorite phrase, Sidewalk is “reimagining cities from the Internet up.” It’s nothing less than an attempt to start at the literal ground level and remake the modern metropolis. They’re looking to address city planning, public management, resource distribution and the million and three other complex, and in many cases rapidly deteriorating, vital functions of the modern metropolis with solutions grounded in universally available connectivity to the same extent that the 20th – or 19th, or 18th – century current versions were grounded in the ground.

“looking to” is the right phrase

Sidewalk spent a year as a thought experiment. Now, bluntly, it’s a thought experiment and a website. And I’ll be honest, as a broke urban dweller and semi-professional do-gooder with and for fellow broke urban dwellers, every time wealthy, optimistic folks show up with money and a plan for my town, I get a cold chill. Here there be monsters.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

But as linked above and shown in, you know, every aspect of digitally enabled life, the folks at Alphabet have accomplished incredible things.

Like I said, they swing big, and for every Glass there’s Earth or Gmail or Maps.

It’s hard to get bigger than “let’s rebuild cities with the Internet.”

Dream big

Starting with connectivity poses questions of accessibility, bandwidth etc., especially with Net Neutrality in play, but Alphabet’s pretty good at connectivity. You may have noticed. Here’s hoping that expertise, not to mention that giant Scrooge McDuck bin of Google money, will be what it takes to get Sidewalk from a Utopian curiosity to a working solution for urban ills.


Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Written By

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.



Business News

Google joins the tech titans of the industry by laying off thousands of employees, however, stating it is based on performance.

Business News

Some of us have been suspicious of incognito for quite some time, and this Google privacy lawsuit confirms our fears.

Tech News

The next way to video chat with your remote coworkers or even your family miles away? Possibly coming soon: Holograms.

Business News

With strict competition and anti-trust allegations, Google is slipping down the path of layoffs and company cuts.

The American Genius is a strong news voice in the entrepreneur and tech world, offering meaningful, concise insight into emerging technologies, the digital economy, best practices, and a shifting business culture. We refuse to publish fluff, and our readers rely on us for inspiring action. Copyright © 2005-2022, The American Genius, LLC.