Google sister company wants to build smart city districts

Sidewalk Labs would design whole technology-laden districts.

Forget just providing internet access on city streets -- Google's sister firm Sidewalk Labs wants to create whole smart neighborhoods. Wall Street Journal sources hear that Sidewalk is about to propose to Alphabet that it should design whole city districts with technology in mind. It wants to revamp existing areas (likely in declining cities) with everything from higher-tech electrical grids to self-driving cars. It's even hoping to get city regulation waivers so that it can experiment with elements as basic as street design.

Alphabet would have to approve the proposal in the "coming weeks," and there's no guarantee that it'll work even if it gets the all-clear. City development frequently involves billions of dollars. Sidewalk would likely have to ask cities (if not larger governments) to chip in, and that's assuming that they're willing to put the fate of a district in the hands of a private company. If the firm can persuade everyone to give it a shot, though, you might see how smart cities work in practice without waiting decades for all the technology to fall into place.