AI, Sensors and Autonomous Tech to Run Smart Cities

Smart City

Without data and AI, smart cities won’t flourish.

The world is becoming a creepier place whether its warming planet or rising traffic deaths. With the beat, the number of people living in cities is expected to rise steeply.

That presents challenges to cities around the world and is driving the rush toward smart cities.

While there is no deficiency of roadblocks on the path to greener, less jammed cities, the group of experts get together at CES are hopeful about a future propelled by sensors, autonomous technology and artificial intelligence.

Without AI and sensors, there are no smart cities  

Startups, technology frontrunners and a host of others are investing tons of money and ample of time into making technologies that will power smart cities around the world. But irrespective of the technology, the key elements are sensors and artificial intelligence.

The sensors are essential to gather data, and the AI is necessary to analyse it. Minus both, a smart city won’t be able to bloom.  It can evaluate ” energy, citizen participation, and mobility,” said Carlo Ratti, manager of MIT Senseable City Lab, during a panel discussion at CES. “It’s one of the most exhilarating spaces. AI and Data can change the way a city moves.”

Cities can lead on how self-driving vehicles are showed off

Autonomous vehicles are crucial for the success of smart cities. Although they aren’t on the roads today, they will be soon as cities get more inhabited, making it unmanageable for everyone to have their own vehicle. “By 2050 two-thirds of the world population will be living in cities,” said Claire Fain, chief financial officer at Via. “It’s an unavoidable fact cities need to address.”

While little in the way of city and municipality finances are going to self-driving vehicles, Fain believes the cities have a huge prospect to shape how autonomous transportation is incorporated in a city. “There’s a window for cities to build the right physical and digital infrastructure for the autonomous roll out,” she said, stating cities have the opportunity to generate new taxes and use their roads to produce new funding.

Although much has been made about the competition to self-driving cars, professionals on the panel pointed to trucks as being the first to get to the roads. “Trucks are first because it’s easier,” said one of the speakers. “ Due to the interstate system and partnerships with states, we will see immeasurably more autonomous trucks before autonomous automobiles.”

Collaboration is crucial 

One of the biggest problems companies in the mobility market face is getting city and municipalities influential on board. Cash is tight for many cities across the world. Most are under pressure to show a clear ROI on any capital spending they make. Showing the city something cool or transformative isn’t sufficient. It has to speak to the budget limitations as well.


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To deal with that Laura Schewel, CEO and co-founder of StreetLight Data, said companies have to sell their services and products on two levels. One has to display a clear return on the investment within one year and the other shows that side by side, the city gets these additional cool features.

Take the dull task of reporting how many cars are on the road to the federal government. The city is obliged to do so daily, which is a costly and time-consuming task. If StreetLight Data can do that cheaply and not only do they get the traffic counts but a range of other data that could help develop autonomous vehicles or remap the bike lane. The city can see an ROI and simultaneously access advanced technology, she said.

“Just selling inventions alone runs up too hard against those budgetary constrictions our clients face,” said Schewel.


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