How AI Will Impact The Rise of Smart Cities

December 14, 2017 - 6 minutes read

The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI), updated every five years, launched last fall. Their first report is dedicated to the impact that AI will have on the average American city in the next 15 years. Smart cities are springing up all over the world. As disruptive technologies like AI advance, they’ll play integral roles in shaping the way we live in urban environments.

AI in Transport and Infrastructure

It’s no surprise that AI will transform the future of transportation; it’s already doing that to some degree with autonomous vehicles. In fact, self-driving vehicles will actually be widely used by 2020! Smart city traffic will resemble a sharply choreographed scene of delivery drones, integrated cars, and driverless trucks all navigating through urban labyrinths towards their destination. Wouldn’t it be nice if rush hour after work was replaced with nap time?

Of course, smart vehicles are only part of the equation to making transportation truly intelligent. Recently, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s infrastructure a D+ in their 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. About 66 percent of U.S. roads and approximately 140,000 bridges need repair. To take on this monumental task, many organizations are using drones to assess the damage and AI to make sense of the disparate data.

A New Age of Information

Alexa (or a version of her) may well still be part of our lives in the era of smart cities. As we continue to automate and simplify our day-to-day, quick searches for information are trending from being click-intensive to verbal-based. It’s already happening in Los Angeles. AI developments like Chip the chatbot and Alexa Skill are streamlining many time-consuming tasks.

In its first day, Chip answered 184 questions about RFP (request for proposal) bids from local businesses. Not only could companies get answers around the clock, but Chip also eliminated a whopping 75 percent of queries that would normally take up the time of human employees.

Outside of business, L.A.’s Alexa Skill, an AI application based off of Amazon’s Alexa, has been helping citizens and visitors alike find out what’s happening in the city. Learning the time the library opens or what’s happening at City Hall are all relatively simple tasks. But when all added up together over the course of a day, they can eat into some serious time. Other cities have taken note of L.A.’s improvements and have put their own plans into motion for leveraging these new AI abilities.

Our Home, Health, and Safety

Home and service robots will help tidy up the kitchen and office, deliver packages, and monitor our interactions to create personalized experiences. The intelligence of these IoT devices will largely depend on AI, which will work in the background to analyze, continually learn, and improve their efficiency.

AI will also reform city and county healthcare systems, but in this case, innovation will largely follow regulation rather than technological advancement. It will be extremely important that patient privacy and access to data are balanced. If data across states and even nations could be shared for analysis by data scientists and AI, diagnostic accuracy and patient care would improve greatly. Combine in-office visits with biometric data, like from a Fitbit or wearable watch, and you’ve got an incredibly personalized medical experience.

Similarly, police departments and emergency response crews will receive information faster and more efficiently. They’ll deploy drones to check out the damage while AI helps organize a plan of approach. Crime prediction will help law enforcement pinpoint potential new hotspots. Speech recognition and gait analysis will help lawyers and judges convict the right person the first time.

AI Is Our Friend

Ultimately, AI’s job is to reduce human effort. By automating essential aspects of life, we will create more time for ourselves. And because manufacturing will become so precise and efficient, product prices presumably will drop. Ideally, this should have the effect of making us richer while having to work less.

By extrapolating useful information from the mountains of data we collect, AI will give us insightful solutions to longstanding issues of our current society. Deloitte predicts that AI will save the government up to $41.1 billion a year by detecting fraud, monitoring systems autonomously, and reducing expenses overall.

While we don’t know exactly what the smart cities of the future look like, one thing is for sure — their evolution will be an iterative process; they won’t become smart overnight. It’ll be an ongoing effort of collaboration between IoT developers, AI developers, engineers, designers, and, of course, the communities living in them.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,