In October of last year, Alphabet, Google's parent company announced it was taking its data-hoovering powers out of purely digital realm and into 3-D space. Sidewalk Labs, its urban innovation venture, officially launched a partnership with the city of Toronto, where it would experiment in improving—nay, optimizing—city streets by observing and measuring how people live.

“This is not some random activity from our perspective,” Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the time. “This is the culmination, from our side, of almost 10 years of thinking about how technology can improve people’s lives.”

OK, Google: This is IRL.


[Coord] will build the cloud-based platform to integrate the many mobility services that have sprung up around the world's cities in the past few years—bike-sharing, car-sharing, and ride-hailing—plus more traditional transportation options, like public transit," writes Aarian Marshall.


A bike-sharing company using Coord, for example, could see its service offered alongside other transportation options within a navigation app like Google Maps: A user could locate a bike, evaluate its cost against competitors', and buy a ride, all without breaking out a credit card. Or a toll agency working with Coord could push out info on dynamic toll prices, so a driver knows how much her trip will cost before she leaves the house.