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Sidewalk Labs’ FLOW smart transportation platform makes cities “autonomous vehicle” ready

Published: March 20, 2016 | NYC

Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc, revealed FLOW-a transportation coordination platform new platform that aims to offer city traffic managers improved control over chaotic and overcrowded streets. Sidewalks Labs has partnered with US DOT and its other smart city partners to help cities improve handling of parking problems, traffic congestion and seamless integration of self-driving cars.


According to the DOT, the seven cities that made it to the finals of its Smart City challenge are: Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland and San Francisco. The second stage of the contest is running as we speak, as each city received $100,000 from the agency to implement and showcase their ideas. Alongside the financing, the winner of Smart City will benefit from Sidewalk Labs’ Flow platform. The big winner will be selected in June.

Flow analytics help cities understand how roads are being used and how people may respond to policy, infrastructure or technology changes:

  • Integrate aggregated, anonymized smartphone data from billions of miles of trips (starting with Google’s Urban Mobility program) along with sensor data (e.g. Link Wi-Fi kiosk platform) to create a real-time view of road and curb usage
  • Select & analyze specific road segments to understand what’s driving congestion based on the type of trip and the neighborhoods in which traffic originates
  • Simulate the impact of new roads, transit routes, mobility services and incentives on traffic by asking “what if” questions, sharing learning across Flow cities
  • Test new technologies by deploying sensors and assessing the impact of new technologies like autonomous vehicles on the overall system

Flow interactive messaging helps cities surface more efficient and equitable mobility options in popular mobile apps or on-street (e.g. Link Wi-Fi kiosk platform)

  • Dynamic parking — Route drivers directly to available parking, providing them with pricing, availability at the beginning of their journey to avoid circling and encourage alternative modes of transit
  • Dynamic transit — Adjust transit routes based on real-time ridership demand and provide on-street interfaces to new shared mobility services to citizens without a smartphone
  • Dynamic curb space — Enable limited curb space to be used for freight, car sharing and bike sharing based on changing conditions and demand


Flow is an open platform works with most data sources and can share insights to any interface. The company is now seeking partners for mobility apps, infrastructure operators, transit operators, sensor vendors, and others.

Source: Sidewalk Labs, Techtimes


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