Larry Page had announced last month that Sidewalk Labs (a new Google company) would focus on improving city life for everyone by developing and incubating urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage.
Sidewalk Labs announced it would be leading the acquisition of two companies behind New York City’s LinkNYC initiative, an ongoing plan to convert old pay phones into free public Wi-Fi hubs. Sidewalk Labs is merging the two companies—Control Group, which provides the interface for the new hubs, and Titan, which is overseeing the advertising that will pay for the project. The new venture, aptly named Intersection, will seek to bring free public Wi-Fi to cities around the world using different pieces of urban infrastructure, from pay phones to bus stops.
“The vision really is to make cities connected places where you can walk down any street and have access to free ultra high speed Wi-Fi,” says Dan Doctoroff, the former CEO of Bloomberg and one-time deputy mayor of New York City, who heads up Sidewalk Labs.
The new company, named Intersection, combines both companies’ expertise in technology and innovation at the convergence of the digital and physical worlds. LinkNYC, their groundbreaking project in New York City with partners Qualcomm and Comark, will create up to 10,000 communications hubs that provide city residents and visitors with free public gigabit Wi-Fi, access to communications, information and municipal services across the city. Intersection will aim to extend the thinking and approach behind LinkNYC into an array of solutions to help make cities around the world more livable and connected.
Google will be able to put real time television ads on bus stops in combination with free Wi-Fi. Google knows how to boost the value of ads.
This plus fi srvicr will enable free phone service.
Android one – capable phones for less than $100
The Google Fi service one simple plan starts with the Fi Basics for $20/month. It includes unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international texts, Wi-Fi tethering to use your phone as a hotspot, and access cellular coverage in 120+ countries. Wi-Fi everywhere would mean that a version of Google Fi would not need to use cellular networks.
This addresses 55 million urban poor.
It also means no device (tablet, laptop or any new devices) need be unconnected to the internet and each other.
Currently you might need simcards (usually with a charge per month for the data or a small amount of free data as a bundle with some cellular service).
O’Donnell warns, however, that not every project Intersection creates will be identical to LinkNYC. “The thing about cities is no two are the same,” he says. “Maybe we’re replacing a phone booth in New York, but it might be adding services to a bus shelter in Philadelphia or a bike share in San Francisco.”
Doctoroff won’t say exactly when we’ll see one of Intersection’s projects launch in another city. But after seeing how local governments have responded to LinkNYC, the largest public Wi-Fi project of its kind, he’s sure it won’t be long. “That’s one of the beauties of doing something in New York first,” he says. “What happens here is seen everywhere.”
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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