Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Google expands Smart City team

William Payne
February 25, 2016
Google has expanded its initiative to develop technologies and software for the Smart City. Launched last year, Google's Sidewalk Lab is focused on addressing major urban challenges such as traffic congestion, housing, crime, and energy with the help of connected technologies, IoT and Big Data analytics. The team has recently been expanded, and now features fourteen major figures in US city and urban planning and management as members of the Lab's leadership team.

Sidewalk Lab is led by a former New York deputy mayor, Dan Doctoroff. Mr Doctoroff was responsible for economic development in New York under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Google team is drawn from a selection of cities facing major challenges in the North and East Coast of the United States.

Google product search engine Froogle developer Craig Nevill-Manning is the Lab's head of engineering. He was responsible for establishing Google's first remote engineering and development centre, based in Manhattan, New York. Dr Rit Aggarwala is another New York based associate of Michael Bloomberg, and is professor of International and Public Affairs at New York's Columbia University and an Advisor on Cities and Climate Change to the United Nations Secretary General. Dr Aggarwala developed the PlaNYC plan for an environmentally sustainable New York that is credited with seeing a 19% reduction in the city's carbon footprint since 2005. Shaina Doar is a specialist in urban economic development and city regeneration. Formerly Ms Doar worked as Chief of Staff to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's Economic Council in Chicago.

The Sidewalk Lab team are mainly now focusing on the federal Smart City Challenge that is allowing US cities to showcase their visions for a “city of the future.”

Google is also engaged on creating intelligent, sensing Wi-Fi beacons in New York. As part of this, the company is deploying high tech kiosks with free Wi-Fi. So far, development has focused on Manhattan's Third Avenue. Eventually, Google plans to roll out around 7,500 kiosks over the next few years.

The beacons will not only provide free Wi-Fi, but also collect data to support Smart City development in New York, including traffic patterns, noise levels and air quality.