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Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that’s expected to increase to 68% by 2050, according to the United Nations.
The gradual migration of people from rural to urban areas is creating massive changes in the spheres of economy and culture, as well as driving the demand for AI-supported smart city services.
Deloitte estimates that this massive shift will push the global market for smart city services to $225.5 billion by 2026 from $93.5 billion in 2017.
On a cumulative basis, the market revenue is anticipated to reach an estimated value of $1.5 trillion during that same period.

What makes a city “smart?”

According to The World Bank, one of the features of a smart city is its cultivation of better relationships between citizens and governments with the help of available technology. Smart cities use citizens’ feedback to enhance the delivery of services and create mechanisms to gather this information. Another essential characteristic is the involvement of residents in managing their neighbourhoods. Smart cities can empower civil society to harness open government data to co-create various solutions which can improve the daily lives of the city’s residents.

AI is going to play a major role in making urbanization smarter

The way we think of sustainable city growth and urban attributes for getting around, shopping and living a life of convenience in a safe environment is changing fast. As municipalities grow, officials are challenged to develop better logistical frameworks for solving urban mobility, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution while increasing safety and inter-modality. This includes other hurdles that cities need to overcome – from bureaucracy and sanitation to security, surveillance and parking management.
As cities become smarter, they will facilitate the deployment of AI at a rapid pace, roping transformative technologies into every aspect of urban life. Here are four examples where AI is expected to make a massive difference in the quality of urban living:

AI is driving superior traffic management and vehicle parking

Cab services like Uber already rely on AI to enrich the experience they provide to their clients. But in smart cities, authorities will increasingly rely on cameras and AI-based traffic sensor systems to facilitate a more efficient traffic flow. By capturing real-time data of vehicles on the road, then aggregating this data together in a control centre, they can tweak signal timings for smoother traffic. Smart cities will also leverage road surface sensors and other AI-based cameras in parking spots to design real-time parking and traffic maps. With this technology, drivers will no longer have to circulate the streets looking for an empty spot or have difficulty merging into traffic.

Waste management based on AI is reducing growing volumes of municipal waste

Using AI technology, facility managers can automate the waste management process. This enables them to automatically categorize and segregate trash to ensure an efficient waste removal. They can also apply sensors to waste bins that can alert garbage collectors before they’re about to be filled. As a result, garbage collection services can monitor these bins to adjust their routes, optimize capacity and save time.

Cities are boosting safety with AI-enabled security systems

A recent Deloitte study found that smart technologies such as AI could help cities reduce crime by 30-40% and reduce response times for emergency services by 20-35%. The study also found that cities have begun investing in real-time crime mapping, crowd management and gunshot detection. Over 80% of cities are making use of facial recognition and biometrics; 55% are installing in-car and body cameras for police, 46% are investing in drones and aerial surveillance, while 39% are relying on crowdsourcing crime reporting and emergency apps to ensure public safety.

AI delivers better public policy, planning management and more accurate weather forecasts

Governments will continue to rely on AI tools in order to generate more accurate forecasts and simulate complex systems that enable experimentation with various policy options. Another benefit of AI in cities is the use of data to run operations with greater efficiency and on a larger scale than ever before, according to Ernst & Young. By utilizing 5G and data and installing smart infrastructure, cities can build networks that supply valuable information, such as energy readings and weather data. Having this knowledge can help cities better prepare ahead of disasters such as floods, earthquakes and storms.

Conclusion: AI is improving people’s quality of life

In order to improve the quality of services they provide to their citizens, cities are accelerating the deployment of AI technologies. As more municipalities earn the “Smart City” label, urban landscapes will continue to transform for the better, fostering a culture of interconnectedness and improving people’s quality of life.