Google’s Sidewalk Labs recently made headlines as a new heavyweight player in the movement to make cities more livable, but many wondered how its initiatives would play out. The recent acquisition of two companies working to bring city-wide Wi-Fi to New York City helps to illuminate its goals.
Wired reports that Sidewalk Labs will be acquiring Control Group and Titan, two companies behind New York City’s LinkNYC. LinkNYC is a first-of-its-kind communications network that will bring the fastest available municipal Wi-Fi to millions of New Yorkers, small businesses, and visitors. By converting old payphones into free public Wi-Fi hubs, LinkNYC will bring Wi-Fi to all five boroughs.
The service will be funded through advertising revenues. Built at no cost to taxpayers, it is expected to generate more than $500 million in revenue for the City over its first 12 years.
By acquiring and merging Control Group with Titan, Sidewalk Labs will bring together the hardware/interface of the Wi-Fi hubs as well as the advertising arm. The new venture will be called Intersection, and seeks to bring free public Wi-Fi to cities all around the world using existing infrastructure, such as pay phones, meters, and bus stops.
Sidewalk Labs bills itself as a company that “will develop technology at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds, with a focus on improving city life for residents, businesses and governments.” They aim to build new products, platforms and partnerships to make progress in areas such as traffic, energy usage, internet innovation, pollution reduction and effective governance.