One of Alphabet’s biggest bets is rebuilding and modernizing cities, but it’s been trailing competitors that have already launched projects. Alphabet’s urban innovation company, Sidewalk Labs, has faced opposition as it plans to develop part of Toronto’s waterfront. Critics say Sidewalk Labs’ vision of a smart city — full of cameras, sensors and self-driving cars — raises alarming privacy concerns. Alphabet is now tackling complex social challenges like privacy rights in public spaces that weren’t barriers when it rolled out its search engine years ago.
Its biggest competitors in this space include telecom giants Verizon and AT&T, CNN’s parent company. Both have mounted cameras high above streets in Atlanta, Portland, San Diego and Washington DC to collect data and empower cities to make better decisions.