Civic Tech Just Got a Major New Player Led by a Veteran Municipal Leader

Dan Doctoroff while still CEO of Bloomberg L.P.

Dan Doctoroff while still CEO of Bloomberg L.P. CECP Photos /


Connecting state and local government leaders

Dan Doctoroff and Google’s new Sidewalk Labs aim to make local government more efficient.

New York City’s former deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding will helm Google’s latest venture, Sidewalk Labs, a civic technology company focused on improving city life for governments and residents both.

Dan Doctoroff, who led Bloomberg L.P. through the Great Recession as CEO and previously served in the administration of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will undoubtedly bring big ideas having created post-9/11 New York’s model sustainability plan, PlaNYC.

The man who launched the largest municipal affordable housing program in the U.S., as well as the Big Apple’s biggest modern land-use transformation, will now be brainstorming data-driven solutions to city governments’ most entrenched challenges.

“At a time when the concerns about urban equity, costs, health and the environment are intensifying, unprecedented technological change is going to enable cities to be more efficient, responsive, flexible and resilient,” Doctoroff said in Wednesday’s announcement. “We hope that Sidewalk will play a major role in developing technology products, platforms and advanced infrastructure that can be implemented at scale in cities around the world.”

Improving transportation, energy conservation and government efficiency are also on the new New York-based company’s to-do list.

The “relatively modest investment” will incubate technologies and forge public-private partnerships only after identifying interrelated urban problem sets, like transportation access’ effect on where people live, housing prices and, at root, quality of life, Google co-founder Larry Page said in a public post on Google+.

“Every time I talk with Dan I feel an amazing sense of opportunity because of his passion for all the ways technology can help transform cities to be more livable, flexible and vibrant,” Page said. “And when you combine that with his experience as an investor, in NYC government, and as CEO of the large information company Bloomberg LP, I can’t imagine a better person to lead these efforts.”

(Photo by CECP Photos /

Dave Nyczepir is News Editor for Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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