Google's Sidewalk Labs Offers World's Fastest Free Wi-Fi

Google's Sidewalk Labs Offers World's Fastest Free Wi-Fi

Sidewalk Labs is Google’s smart-cities research unit, which is aiming to tackle urban problems such as congestion, housing and energy by closing the gap between traditional planning policy and the latest technology.

The concept is still in the early stages, but the idea is that it would use a variety of approaches—Internet of Things technology, social networks, location-based services and new design and fabrication technologies to bring about a “smarter city”.

Sidewalk has already been involved in the LinkNYC project, which replaces old, unused and outdated pay phone booths with kiosks that provide free Wi-Fi within a 150-foot radius, as well as touchscreens to allow free local phone calls and Internet access. It will make available—for free—the fastest public Wi-Fi in the world. This is of great value to the 25% of New Yorkers who don’t have broadband at home.

Kit inside the booths also gathers intelligence on what’s going on in their immediate area in terms of traffic, noise and air.

More than a dozen booths are now installed on Manhattan’s Third Avenue. By July, there should be around 500 and by 2020 the group plans to have at least 4,450 kiosks dotted around.

Next up, Sidewalk is helping ten teams with the U.S. Department of Transport’s Smart City Challenge. The endeavour invites cities in the States to make plans about how to incorporate new technologies such as driverless vehicles, open data and on-demand services… with a $50 million prize pot to make it happen. 

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