Jun 28th, 2016

Remember Sidewalk Labs? The Alphabet-owned company has been cooking up ways to make city living better, even going as far as tapping a real city (Columbus, Ohio) to receive $50 million in funds for letting Sidewalk Labs test and deploy their futuristic city services.

The Guardian dipped into publicly available documents from the city proposals and plans to get a look into how Google is attempting to do this. One of the components of their plan was revealed as Flow, and it focuses entirely on city parking and transportation.

sidewalk labs flow

At its basic level, Flow is a smart tracking system for parking spaces. A combination of things like user-sourced data and snapshots of parking spaces from a Google StreetView car would be used to estimate the availability of parking spaces.

An app — or, perhaps, a Nearby notification — can show you several parking options near you, including how much time it’ll take to reach that parking spot, and how much time it would take to walk from that spot to wherever you’re going. It can even show the cost of the spot if the parking is metered. Taking it a step further, they could offer a system that allows businesses to set hard parking rates, and prices can fluctuate depending on demand or time of day.

It’s not all about helping you save money, though. Some other troubling aspects of the proposal include a system that can estimate the highest gain areas for parking violations and offer up routes for police to tackle those areas efficiently. It’s a move that could add an extra $4 million in fine to city coffers, apparently.

The full report from The Guardian includes details about public transportation benefits, including a system that can probe all available transportation options to give you the most convenient, most affordable, or fastest traveling options. Be sure to give it a read if you’re curious about Google’s baseline plans to make your city better.

local_offer    Alphabet   Google   Sidewalk Labs