On Monday, Sidewalk Labs – a spin off company from Google – announced their first initiative: Intersection. The new company – Sidewalk Labs – is perhaps Google’s boldest yet, and Intersection is a testament to this fact. Sidewalk Labs’ mission is to, “improve life in cities for everyone through the application of technology to solve urban problems.”1
Sidewalk Labs is run by Dan Doctoroff, former CEO of Bloomberg LP and Deputy Mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York. Doctoroff released a statement with the announcement of the company:
We are at the beginning of a historic transformation in cities. 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. We hope that Sidewalk will play a major role in developing technology products, platforms and advanced infrastructure that can be implemented at scale in cities around the world.2
In practice, Sidewalk Labs is an incubator of sorts. Intersection is the incubator’s first program. Intersection was formed from a merger between Control Group and Titan. The two companies were behind the LinkNYC program, updating old payphones into public Wi-Fi hotspots with 1GB internet. Ultimately, the goal of Intersection is to rapidly scale LinkNYC’s platform up, and make it available to all major cities.
The new company, named Intersection, combines both companies’ expertise in technology and innovation at the convergence of the digital and physical worlds. LinkNYC, their groundbreaking project in New York City with partners Qualcomm and Comark, will create up to 10,000 communications hubs that provide city residents and visitors with free public gigabit WiFi, access to communications, information and municipal services across the city. Intersection will aim to extend the thinking and approach behind LinkNYC into an array of solutions to help make cities around the world more livable and connected.3