Portland smart city mobility tracking

February 2021

The US city of Portland, Oregon, has decided not to go ahead with a plan to track mobility patterns of how people move throughout the urban area. The plan had been to use mobile tracking data to inform decision-making about bike lane, road repair and bus service planning.

According to reports, Portland Metro decided to pull out largely because as a series of disputes with Google's Sidewalk Labs spin-off Replica over data quality, transparency, and privacy. Conversely, Replica says it was unwilling to share data to the level of detail requested by the city.

Last year, a Sidewalks Lab project to build a smart city in a disused waterfront area of Toronto also fell apart. An independent review panel had criticised the plan as 'tech for tech's sake', with some of the proposed elements 'irrelevant or unnecessary'.

Operator: Portland Metro
Developer:
Alphabet/Google/Sidewalk Labs; Replica
Country: USA
Sector: Govt - municipal
Purpose: Track mobility patterns
Technology: Location tracking
Issue: Privacy
Opacity: Governance - data