Google's Sidewalk Labs moves to integrate new technologies into existing cities, instead of building new districts. This approach, although it needs more design and development strategy, presents major benefits to the urban areas.

In a study, Sidewalk Labs found that applying a combination of urban innovations could reduce cost of living by 14%, save an average inhabitant an hour per day, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to two-thirds.

Sidewalk Labs was founded in 2014, with the goal of integrating new digital technologies such as connectivity, social network and AI into urban life. The company received the attention of authorities in several cities around the world. In future, Sidewalk Labs might hold a competition to encourage greater participation of local leaders and mayors. He pointed to the success of the US DOT Smart City Challenge as a possible template of such a competition.

"Whatever we do, we know the world doesn't need another plan that falls into the same trap as previous ones: treating the city as a high-tech island rather than a place that reflects the personality of its local population," said Doctoroff.

"Anything we try will require lots of discussion, refinement, and adaptation. Responsible innovation at the city scale requires self-reflection and a willingness to make adjustments based on local feedback."

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