Tech City: Sidewalk Labs

Tech City: Sidewalk Labs

Sidewalk Labs is only a few weeks old yet it hints strongly at a future where smart cities are predicted, by 2050, to house seven out of ten of all people on earth.

A prediction that the population of cities is set to double by 2050, and in London alone exceed ten million by 2030, coincides with the creation of Sidewalk Labs by Google. The mission statement is to improve life in cities for everyone, though technological innovations.

Former Bloomberg LP CEO and New York Deputy Mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding, Dan Doctoroff, announced the formation of Sidewalk Labs on 10th June 2015.

To be run out of New York, Sidewalk Labs aims to design communities that are more efficient, resilient and responsive by fostering technological products, platforms and infrastructure, which can be applied in cities at scale.

Sidewalk Labs will attempt to solve urban problems by creating technology that can be inserted at the intersection of the digital and physical worlds. As urban challenges are interrelated, Google’s latest project will aim to distinguish the first principles of many factors affecting city life. Sidewalk Labs will then develop technology and partnerships that will make a difference to urban life.

The challenges for cities include developing efficient transport, reducing energy use, lowering the cost of living and governments that can operate efficiently.

According to the United Nations, two thirds of people on earth will live in cities by 2050, meaning that we need to seriously update infrastructure to support the load…

According to Dan Doctoroff, cities need to become connected places where anyone can walk down any street and access free super high-speed Wi-Fi.

European smart cities

The European Union is already investing in ICT (Information and Communications Technology) research and innovation. The European Commission has formed the European Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities.

The aim is to bring cities and industries together and this project has already received 370 funding commitments through 3,000 partners and from 31 countries. Funding has come from public authorities, businesses, academic and research institutions, NGOs and private individuals.

Smart London

London is one of the world’s strongest centres of commerce and a global cultural hotspot. By 2031 London will need 641,000 new jobs and 800,000 new homes.

Over one third of funding for the European Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities has come from public authorities…

London’s population will grow by one million this decade and reach the nine million population milestone before New York.

To meet the demands of this growth, the 2015 budget set aside £40 million for the development of the internet of things in healthcare, social care and smart cities.

This will ensure the continuation of innovations following on from those already implemented, such as smart traffic lights that change as CCTV logs congestion, contact-less payments and notifications of the exact minute of bus arrivals.

Smart technologies and principals of the future

The stretch of smart technologies that will infiltrate smart cities are as far reaching as the human imagination. The IoT (internet of things) will see an explosion of connected technologies where open data is accessible for practical implementation into apps.

The future smart city is a place where street lights sense approaching traffic and people, vertical farming challenges our preconceptions of the use of space and parking analysis highlights the vacancies closest to the intended destination. Connected autonomous vehicles will drive on our roads, all electric devices will be wirelessly charged and health care will be digitised.

In every area of the smart city digital technology, information and communication will enhance the performance and quality of urban services, reducing cost and resource consumption, while engaging more effectively and actively with its population.

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