Sidewalk Labs

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Sidewalk Labs
IndustryUrban planning, infrastructure
FoundedJune 10, 2015; 6 years ago (2015-06-10)
HeadquartersNew York, NY
Key people
ParentAlphabet Inc. (2015–present)

Sidewalk Labs is an urban innovation organization by Alphabet Inc.. Its goal is to improve urban infrastructure through technological solutions, and tackle issues such as cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage.[1][2]

It is headed by Daniel L. Doctoroff, former deputy mayor of New York City for economic development and former chief executive of Bloomberg L.P.[3] Other members include Craig Nevill-Manning, co-founder of Google's New York office and inventor of Froogle.[4]


Project Sidewalk[edit]

Sidewalk Labs Toronto office's demo

In April 2016, The Information reported that Sidewalk intended to create a new city in the United States to test design ideas prior to real world implementation.[5] Sidewalk did not confirm that report, but has said it had engaged in thought experiments about what it could be like to develop a community "from the internet up."[6]

In October 2017, Sidewalk Labs announced plans to develop Quayside, a 12-acre (4.9 ha) neighborhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in response to a competition organized by Waterfront Toronto. Branded as Sidewalk Toronto, the project aims to become "a testbed for emerging technologies, materials and processes" to address issues such as sustainability, accessibility, inclusiveness and prosperity in urban communities.[7][8] The initiative is also envisioned to be scaled up across Toronto's Port Lands, an 800-acre (320 ha) area that is one of the largest areas of underdeveloped urban land in North America.[9][better source needed]

In 2019, Sidewalk Labs said it had consulted thousands of Torontonians for its development plans. However, representatives of Waterfront Toronto's Digital Strategy Advisory Panel (DSAP) said that Sidewalk Labs's projects contained too much "tech for tech's sake."[10][11] In May 2020, the project was abandoned due to the economic uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.[12][13]

Traffic flow in the United States[edit]

At March 17, 2016, Sidewalk is also working with the U.S. Department of Transportation to assess road data gathered from smartphones to analyze congestion and other traffic conditions, and develop a transportation coordination platform to improve the efficiency of road, parking, and transit use.[2][14]

Investments and portfolio companies[edit]

Sidewalk Labs invests in and incubates companies to develop tools that can support Sidewalk Toronto and scale to other cities around the world.[15]

Intersection and Link[edit]

In June 2015, Sidewalk Labs led a group of investors in the acquisition of Control Group and Titan forming a new company called Intersection.[16] Intersection works in cities and public spaces to offer internet connectivity, information, and content.[17]


In 2018, Sidewalk Labs introduced a spin-off Coord, a company focused on providing RESTful APIs for accessing information like routing, bike share details, toll information, and curbside details.[18][19] In October 2018, Coord raised an additional $5 million to continue building products.[20]

The Yellow Book[edit]

Sidewalk Labs provides a coffee table book to employees known as The Yellow Book, which contains aspirational designs of a futurist city run on its technology.[21][22] In the book, the company proposes expanding its scope to include the power to levy taxes, control public services such as schools, roads, and public transportation, continuously track the current and past locations of all members of the community, and to help redesign of the local criminal justice system.[22] The book also describes a social credit system to manipulate human behavior similar to the one used in China, but unlike the Chinese system, Sidewalk's proposed system includes rewards for sharing personal data.[22]

The book also includes the potential real estate profitability of such investments, containing theoretical proposals for communities in Detroit, Denver, and Alameda, California.[22]


  1. ^ "Sidewalk Labs" Seeks to Improve City Life
  2. ^ a b Kamran, Bilal (2016-04-06). "Alphabet Inc Subsidiary Sidewalk Labs Hints at Development Plans for a New City". BidnessEtc. Archived from the original on 2016-10-08. Retrieved 2021-05-27.
  3. ^ Lohr, Steve (2015-06-10). "Sidewalk Labs, a Start-Up Created by Google, Has Bold Aims to Improve City Living". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-10.
  4. ^ "Sidewalk Labs, Google's Company for Cities, Builds Its Inaugural Executive Team". Re/code. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  5. ^ Lessin, Jessica (14 April 2016). "Alphabet's Sidewalk Preps Proposal for Digital District". The Information. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  6. ^ Williams, Jake (4 May 2017). "Google wants to build a city". Statescoop. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  7. ^ Rider, David (4 October 2017). "Google firm poised to partner on Toronto high-tech neighbourhood". Toronto Star. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Waterfront Toronto Takes First Step in Building Quayside: A New Community That Will Provide Testbed for Solutions to Pressing Urban Challenges". Waterfront Toronto. 17 March 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Sidewalk Toronto". Sidewalk Toronto. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Google's smart-city plans 'tech for tech's sake'". BBC News. 12 September 2019.
  11. ^ "DSAP Preliminary Commentary and Questions on Sidewalk Labs' Draft Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP)" (PDF).
  12. ^ Carter, Adam; Rieti, John Rieti (2020-05-07). "Sidewalk Labs cancels plan to build high-tech neighbourhood in Toronto amid COVID-19". CBC News. Retrieved 2020-08-09.
  13. ^ Doctoroff, Daniel L. (7 May 2020). "Why we're no longer pursuing the Quayside project — and what's next for Sidewalk Labs". Medium. Retrieved 2020-08-09.
  14. ^ "Sidewalk Labs - Flow". Archived from the original on 2017-05-08. Retrieved 2021-05-27.
  15. ^ "Incubated and Portfolio Companies". Sidewalk Labs. 2021-05-27.
  16. ^ D'Onfro, Jillian. "Google is funding a plan to bring free Wi-Fi to NYC". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  17. ^ Intersection - About Us
  18. ^ "Coord will get you there one way or another with its new APIs". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  19. ^ "Sidewalk Labs Is Building a Platform for Making the City of Tomorrow". WIRED. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  20. ^ "Coord, a Sidewalk Labs spin-out, raises $5 million to help mobility services better integrate into cities". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  21. ^ D'Onfro, Christina Farr,Jillian (2018-06-27). "Google sister-company Sidewalk has a secret 'yellow book' with its plans to reinvent cities, plus possible sites beyond Toronto". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  22. ^ a b c d "Sidewalk Labs document reveals company's early vision for data collection, tax powers, criminal justice". Retrieved 2019-11-01.