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DOT partners with Google on transportation analytics

Smart City Challenge finalists take part in Google initiative

The U.S Department of Transport has partnered with Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to develop Flow, a data and analytics platform designed to create a management and monitoring system for public transportation.

Flow is said to offer citywide transportation analytics to help cities understand congestion and identify areas underserved by transit using aggregated, anonymized data from billions of trip miles, including proprietary data from Waze and Google Maps. The platform will be provided free of charge, along with $40 million in funding to the winner of the DoT’s Smart City Challenge, which has been narrowed down to seven finalists: Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Kansas City, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco. Each of thee finalists is set to receive $100,000 to build out their proposals.

Sidewalk Labs said it plans to install more than 100 kiosks in four neighborhoods of the winning city, with the kiosks providing free Wi-Fi and access points for disadvantaged citizens. During a conference call, Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff said Flow will receive data from a variety of sources including sensors, cameras, third-party apps or even a city’s own data. Flow also can select and analyze specific road segments to understand what’s driving congestion based on the type of trip and the neighborhoods in which traffic originates. The platform also can simulate the impact of new roads, transit routes, mobility services and incentives on traffic.

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