Google’s big bet on technology for cities is finally starting to make sense.
Earlier this month when Larry Page announced that Google was launching a new startup called Sidewalk Labs to develop and incubate technology for cities many wondered what the company wanted with an industry that is so much less sexy than any of its other so-called ‘moonshot’ projects – like developing the self-driving car or you know – curing death.
Now that fuzzy logic is coming into focus. Today Sidewalk Labs announced it would be leading the acquisition of two companies behind New York City’s LinkNYC initiative – an ongoing plan to convert old pay phones into free public Wi-Fi hubs. Through the acquisition Sidewalk Labs is merging the two companies—Control Group which provides the interface for the new hubs and Titan which is overseeing the advertising that will pay for the project. The new venture – aptly named Intersection – will seek to bring free public Wi-Fi to cities around the world using different pieces of urban infrastructure – from pay phones to bus stops.
‘The vision really is to make cities connected places where you can walk down any street and have access to free ultra high speed Wi-Fi’ says Dan Doctoroff the former CEO of Bloomberg and one-time deputy mayor of New York City who heads up Sidewalk Labs. ‘The possibilities from there are just endless’.