Last week, Alphabet’s “urban innovation” arm, Sidewalk Labs, announced a new side-project called Coord.
The goal: to build out a cloud-based platform that serves as the “connective tissue” for a city’s transportation services (think everything from ridesharing to bike sharing to public transit).
They’ve been toying with this for a while
Coord aims to collect an immense amount of local data on things like cities’ tolls, transit routes, parking spaces, and curb traffic, create a repository for it all, then sell it to transit-oriented companies.
In essence, they want to create a central hub to simplify transportation options in cities, and simplify the task of navigating multiple apps for public transit, ridesharing, and bike sharing.
And, it’s part of a growing trend of big-tech trying to sell cities their own data and act as “urban operating systems.”
The age of the Smart City
As Wired writes, Coord envisions turning cities into “high-tech, digital playgrounds,” where everything is connected and symbiotic.
They’re not alone in this quest: Ford is already selling its Transportation Mobility Cloud (an operating system for transport), Amazon, Siemens, and IBM all have internal “Smart City” departments, and Bill Gates has invested $80m in building a futuristic city of his own in Arizona.
In other words, they won’t rest until you can have an intelligent conversation with your parking meter.
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