Sidewalk Labs and Transportation for America form new partnership for ‘smart cities’


An organization that acts as an alliance of elected, business and civic leaders from communities across the USA, and a Google spin-off company, have announced a new partnership to engage cities in developing efficient and affordable transportation options for all.

Transportation for America (T4A) and Sidewalk Labs will work with dozens of US cities to define how technology can help them meet their pressing transportation challenges. This collaboration will help local leaders with urban mobility issues, by harnessing powerful data and the availability of new digital tools. The partnership will build on Sidewalk Labs’ expertise in working with cities to develop digital technology that solves big urban problems, combined with T4A’s experience, collaborating with state and local governments to develop forward-looking transportation and land use policy.

Through the partnership, T4A will launch an in-depth study on the state of current transportation policy and technology in US cities, and build a peer-learning collaborative of city leaders to define and design the ‘connected streets’ of the future. Connected streets offer technology-enabled interventions that can support a balanced, multimodal approach to urban transportation that expands access to job opportunities and improves quality of life across a city.

Sidewalk Labs announced in March that it is building a new transportation coordination platform called ‘Flow’, in partnership with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and seven finalist cities from the USDOT’s Smart City Challenge. The Flow team has met with all the finalists to understand the challenges they face, and what tools might help them meet their goals for creating efficient, sustainable, equitable and safe transportation systems. The winner of the Challenge will be announced in June, and will receive Flow at no cost. The new partnership is hoping that the 77 cities who entered the Challenge will join their new program.

“Too often there’s a disconnect between tech interventions and transportation outcomes. We’ve seen cities embrace a more holistic approach in our collaboration with the Smart City Challenge, but it’s important to broaden that discussion to all the other cities looking for better tools to improve mobility,” said Anand Babu, COO of Sidewalk Labs. “By drawing on T4A’s long experience working within local communities, we can focus the conversation on cities’ goals and break down the divide between technologists and city leaders. And as a result, we’ll build a network where best practices and ideas for solving these problems through emerging technologies can be shared among cities across the country.”

James Corless, director of T4A, said, “In the course of providing technical assistance to local communities over the past few years, we continually hear from cities who want better tools to tackle the same problems of congestion, growing commutes, and access to affordable transportation options. Working with Sidewalk Labs, we can help local leaders learn about the possibilities presented by emerging technologies, but also help first codify what they want to achieve in terms of transportation equity, reliability and access, so that the technology can be put to best use.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).