T4America Blog

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T4America is partnering with Sidewalk Labs to help cities thoughtfully use technology to solve their transportation challenges

With 77 hopeful cities leaving USDOT’s Smart Cities challenge empty-handed after the winner is announced later this month, we’re excited to announce a new partnership with Sidewalk Labs to help those cities and others develop efficient and affordable transportation options for all by thoughtfully and intentionally using emerging technologies. 

t4america sidewalk labs partnership

If you’re not familiar with Sidewalk Labs, they’re a relatively new city-focused company developing technology to solve big urban problems like transportation, housing, energy, and data-driven management. It was formed by an affiliation between Alphabet (Google’s new umbrella company) and Daniel Doctoroff, who has firsthand experience with these challenges as a local official himself, serving in the Bloomberg administration as the former Deputy Mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York.

At T4America, we’ve been spending the last few years shifting away from a sole focus on federal policy and have expanded into equipping local leaders at all levels to find ways to get more people where they want to go quickly and affordably. And now, over the course of the next year, our two organizations will work with dozens of U.S. cities to better define how technology can help them meet their pressing transportation challenges by harnessing powerful data and the availability of new digital tools.

Here’s what Anand Babu, COO of Sidewalk Labs, had to say about our new partnership in our joint press release:

“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 U.S. DOT Smart City Challenge, but it’s important to broaden that discussion to all the other cities looking for better tools to improve mobility. By drawing on Transportation for America’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.”

Cities can’t be passive right now as technology and new mobility solutions are combining to change the landscape of cities almost overnight. Cities can either help shape the technology transforming their cities and accomplish their goals, or have themselves be shaped by it. There’s no real third option. It’s crucial for cities to know what kind of city they want to be and set some tangible goals before pursuing technology solutions.

Any dog can be a guide dog if you don’t know where you’re going, right? And if you don’t know where you’re going, any technology will get you there.

“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 the technology can be put to best use,” said T4America Director James Corless in today’s release.

With the Smart Cities Challenge from USDOT wrapping up in the next month with the selection of a winner, 77 other cities that miss out on the $40 million will be left with only the proposal they crafted and their ambitions. Money or no, many of those cities will be serious about finding ways to move their plans forward. In addition, many cities may be navigating a range of third-party private providers and other companies at their doorstep selling products or offering solutions as a result of the competition.

This partnership will not only allow us to provide guidance to cities to proceed thoughtfully, but even more importantly, help them to learn from each other as they set goals and start to figure out how to intentionally move forward with their ambitious plans.

We’re excited to team up with Sidewalk Labs to find yet another way to support smart, local, homegrown transportation plans that will help move more people more quickly and affordably.


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  2. Tom Downs

    8 years ago

    Great photo for your masthead. Not a sidewalk in sight, just wall to wall cars.

  3. Mike Payne

    8 years ago

    EXCEPT here in Chicago where we have Transit Agencies who are in business to reward Connected Construction Company Campaign Contributors, rather than “serving the Public”.

    REQUESTS directly from the Public for New Transit Services get summarily IGNORED; maybe this new org. can help us in our quest: http://www.modernmetraelectric.org

  4. Cheyenne Connors

    8 years ago

    How can a city apply to work with this new union?