Big Data Hopes to Unsnarl City and Pedestrian Traffic


A LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosk that Sidewalk Labs hopes will address urban congestion.

That kiosk on a bustling city street saying Poland Spring water was “born in Maine” and “moved to the big city” actually hides a Wi-Fi data gathering unit that funnels transit data to city officials in hopes of making traffic more navigable and figuring out “newer, smarter ways of moving people and goods around the country’s urban areas,” says a reporter covering the new partnership between Google’s Sidewalk Labs and the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of its “Smart City” competition.

Google will call its software platform Flow, similar in function and design to it Google Maps because it using mapping software to generate the data.  It also allows users to to run virtual experiments to create “best case” scenarios.

Google hopes that is Sidewalk Labs gets traction in big cities and the U.S. Department of Transportation hopes that it will alert city officials and therefore city dwellers on foot and on wheels to lessen congestion and therefore plan for such contingencies, such as adding a bus route, alerting motorists and pedestrians to tie-ups (like before and after and Eagles or Phillies game) not to mention back-up on the Schuylkill.

If successful, cities would pay for different tiers of data and higher levels of analytic and diagnostic capabilities.  Also at stake is winning the federal agency’s $40 million grant competition for the best new ways to use data and technology to improve transportation.

No, Philadelphia is not among the seven finalists that include Columbus, OH, Kansas City, MO, Pittsburgh, PA, Denver, CO, San Francisco, CA and Austin, TX.

Chalk another one up for Google and Sidewalk Labs under its new umbrella organization, Alphabet.  Maybe that’s why Alphabet changed its slogan from “Don’t Be Evil” to “Do the Right Thing.”  I always thought the “Don’t be evil” slogan was kind of biblical for a search company, anyway, although it does kind of go to the heart of what many of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneur billionaires think of themselves sometimes, i.e. on a mission from God.

Here’s Conor Dougherty’s excellent piece in The Times:

This entry was posted in algorithms, Case Studies, Community Management, Data, Google, Innovation, Internet of Things, Silicon Valley, technology, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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