Could Detroit Become a Google "Digital District"

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New York. Portland. San Francisco. Seattle. The debate rages on about the most innovative city in America. But if Google parent company Alphabet has its way, there soon may be a new contender.

Sidewalk Labs, which Google created last June and has since spun off as a subsidiary--is reportedly scouting locations to build an entire city, a highly connected utopia that will make the aforementioned cities look obsolete. Think: self-driving cars, high-speed Wi-Fi, internet of things-enabled everything.

According to The Information, the Denver and Detroit areas, so far, look like the frontrunners. Sidewalk Labs has consulted with more than 100 urban planning experts and forward thinkers, such as Anthony Townsend, research director of Institute for the Future. Sidewalk Labs already has some heavy-hitting city planners in its own ranks, including its CEO, Dan Doctoroff, a former New York City deputy mayor.

Google created Sidewalk Labs to confront the problems plaguing cities: traffic congestion, pollution, lack of public transportation, limited connectivity, to name a few. Its mission statement is to "accelerate innovation in cities around the world." What could that mean? Maybe a city with exclusively self-driving cars, clean energy sources, world-class transit hubs, and high-speed wireless, for starters.

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