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Replica, Dealer in “Synthetic” Urban Data, Raises $41M

The company, a spinoff from Google-affiliated Sidewalk Labs, hopes to circumvent privacy concerns by making location-based data “synthetic.” It’s also planning on putting out a new scenario-modeling product this year.

A map from the startup Replica showing New York City residences within 15 minutes of a WeWork location.
A screenshot of Replica
<a href="https://replicahq.medium.com/reimagining-work-in-the-covid-19-era-1026a5f69845" target="_blank">Replica</a>
Replica, a startup that deals in “synthetic” urban transportation, mobility and economic data, has raised $41 million in a Series B investment round.

The company, which spun out from the Google-affiliated Sidewalk Labs in 2019, offers a product it hopes will allow for local government to tap into the wealth of new data being generated around travel patterns and urban activity while avoiding the associated privacy concerns that come with it. It does so by taking real, de-identified location data, then running it through models based on a “synthetic population” to create data that’s essentially fake, but can be used to study real movement patterns — hence the name Replica.

The company also works with spending data, adding an economic dimension to its outputs.

The end result can be used for many purposes at the government level, such as urban planning, transit routing and scheduling, and economic development.

“Planners and policymakers make better plans and sounder policy when they have current, relevant data,” said Trae Stephens, a partner at round-leader Founders Fund, in a press release. “The kind of data Replica provides results in more creative designs, more comprehensive policy solutions, and direct positive impact on constituents’ lives. And the fact that Replica always prioritizes privacy at every step helps build trust in the communities they support.”

Replica is also planning on putting out a new product this year called Scenario, which is meant to expand users’ ability to forecast the impact of various changes.

The company’s new funding puts its total to date north of $50 million. The lead investor in the round was Founders Fund. Sidewalk Labs also participated in the round, as did Rise of the Rest Fund and Firebrand Ventures, which took part in Replica’s $11 million round in 2019.
Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.
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