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A City’s Data

A City’s Data

The New York Times had a thought-provoking piece called Cities to Untangle Traffic Snarls, With Help From Alphabet Unit. The story noted that the Transportation Department announced the seven finalist Cities, including our neighbor San Francisco. Our own San Leandro, as most cities these days, are part of the evolution of what it means to be a Smart City.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — In a world where taxi rides are summoned with a button and where people have become reliant on mapping applications to get around town, a paradox has emerged: Technology companies know a lot more about a city’s traffic patterns than the city officials trying to solve the problem.

On Thursday, the federal Department of Transportation announced a partnership with Sidewalk Labs, a unit of Alphabet, the same technology conglomerate that owns Google, that aims to funnel transit data to city officials in hopes of making traffic more bearable and figuring out newer, smarter ways of moving people and goods around the country’s urban areas.

“We’re taking everything from anonymized smartphone data from billions of miles of trips, sensor data, and bringing that into a platform that will give both the public and private parties and government the capacity to actually understand the data in ways they haven’t before,” said Daniel L. Doctoroff, Sidewalk’s chief executive, who is a former deputy mayor of New York City and former chief executive of Bloomberg.

Imagine this for a moment. Run through a typical work day. Where is something being monitored or measured that’s producing data? Someone wants to make sense of it. What if it might be useful to you too?