Our Story

With decades of combined experience across city management, urban planning, academia, technology, and public policy, we have a deep understanding and respect for the complex task of building cities. These experiences have resulted in a platform designed to help cities make informed, people-centered decisions.

Replica HQ: Our Story

Our Story

When Replica started in 2018 as a project within Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, we set our sights on understanding how people move within cities. Since then, we’ve evolved into an independent company with a much larger mission: We want to make it easy to understand the full, ever-changing complexity of urban ecosystems.

The need for this is clear. Historically, timely and trustworthy data has been undervalued, difficult to acquire, and hard to utilize. And too often, the people who make decisions about the built environment are expected to rely on narrow, outdated, and incomplete datasets. Cities are one of the most complex systems on the planet, yet nearly every decision about them is made without identifying, measuring, and addressing the second-order impacts of those decisions.

We Built Replica to Change This

We aim to empower public agencies and their private-sector partners with reliable, high-quality data that never compromises the privacy of individuals. We know that better information in the form of transportation, land use, and spend data can help public agencies achieve better outcomes for the people who live in the cities, towns, and regions they work in. We also know that data is most valuable when it is timely, transparent about its quality, and easily accessible to those who need it.

Replica started building simulations of real-world travel behavior in 2018. Our methodology results in data that represents a typical day of activity in great detail for a given season, while ensuring that we never share the actual movements of individual people.

In 2020, responding to the urgent needs of the Covid-19 pandemic, we created a Trends tool offering weekly data on mobility, consumer spending, and public health data down to the census tract level. Public agencies used our data to monitor the progression of the pandemic and economic recovery, integrating our data into public-facing dashboards that communicated key data points about city services during the emergency.

In 2021, our activity-based travel demand model grew to cover the entire contiguous United States, creating the first nationwide travel model of its kind. Our unique platform makes it possible to connect the dots between mobility, land use, health, and commerce, revealing the critical interdependencies in the built environment.

We’ve Spent a Lot of Time Thinking About These Challenges

We’ve walked in your shoes as former public sector officials, architects and engineers, real estate professionals, and consultants. We’ve also been fortunate to work with some of the largest public agencies in North America. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • These are very real and very complicated problems. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t grasp the true nature of the situation.
  • Covid-19 has created significant changes in travel and consumer behavior, rendering many traditional heuristics and data sets useless.
  • The work is complicated, as it involves multiple stakeholders across different areas of functional expertise. Even the best data isn’t helpful if it can’t be considered outside of narrow areas of focus or communicated effectively to a diverse group of people.

For those whose work shapes the built environment, there are rarely “right” or obvious answers. Everything is a trade-off in a complex system. The goal must be to make more informed, holistic decisions, not to search for a silver bullet.

Cities are more than mobility. Your data should be, too.

How can we help you see your city better?

Want to learn how to reduce carbon emissions? Make infrastructure projects more equitable? Rethink the future of commuting? Schedule a demo today.

Schedule a Demo

Planning for additional housing near transit? Implementing
a vision-zero program? Moving away from traffic counts? Replica can help. Schedule a demo today.