According to the data published by the UN, the world population will reach up to a limit of 9.7 billion by the end of 2050. It is deduced that almost 70% of that population will be an urban population with many cities accommodating over 10m inhabitants. As the number grows, we’ll have to encounter challenges regarding making a provision for resources and energy to all of the inhabitants and at the same time, avoiding environment deterioration. Another critical challenge is administration and management to prevent sanitation issues, mitigate traffic congestion, thwart crime, etc.
But many of these problems can be tamed by the use of AI-enabled IoT. Using technological advancement to facilitate the new experience for inhabitants can make their day-to-day living more comfortable and secure. This has given rise to the concept of smart cities. A smart city is a city that makes use of information and technologies to enhance the quality and performance of urban services (like energy and transportation), thereby reduces the consumption of resources, prevents wastage, and overall costs. Smart cities not only possess ICT but also employ technology in a way that positively impacts the inhabitants.
Artificial Intelligence combined with IoT has the potential to address key challenges posed by an excessive urban population which includes traffic management, healthcare, energy crises, and many other issues. It can improve the lives of the citizens and businesses that inhabit a smart city.
What makes Smart Cities Smart?
Before diving into the implantation part, let’s explore some of the components of smart cities. A smart city has lots of use cases for AI-powered IoT-enabled technology, from maintaining a healthier environment to enhancing public transport and safety.
Smart Traffic Management
AI and IoT can implement smart traffic solutions to ensure that inhabitants of a smart city get from one point to another in the city as safely and efficiently as possible. Los Angeles is one of the most congested cities in the world to adopt smart traffic solution to control the flow of traffic. It has installed road-surface sensors and closed-circuit television cameras that send real-time updates about the traffic flow to a central traffic management system. The data feed from cameras is analyzed and notifies the users regarding the congestion and traffic signal malfunctions.
Finding a parking slot especially during holiday time is a real struggle. With road surface sensors embedded in the ground on parking spots, smart parking solutions can determine whether the parking spots are free or occupied and create a real-time parking map. This will also reduce the time drivers had to wait to find an empty space which would also help reducing congestion and pollution
Smart Waste Management
Waste collection and its proper management and disposal is an essential city service. This increase in the urban population necessitates the adoption of smart methods for waste management. Adopting AI for smart recycling and waste management can provide a sustainable waste management system. One such example could be of Barcelona’s waste management system which has sensors and devices fitted on waste bins that send notifications to the authorities to dispatch the waste collection trucks as soon as they are about to be filled. They also maintain separate bins for paper, plastic, glass, and waste food items in every locality.
Since crime is omnipresent, smart cities also require smart policing where law enforcement agencies employ evidence-based data-driven strategies that are effective, efficient, and economical. In Singapore, where this has already been initiated, a network of cameras and sensors have been installed in almost every corner which helps to identify people who are smoking in prohibited zones or are loitering from a high-rise housing. The cameras enable the authorities to monitor crowd density, cleanliness of public areas and also track the exact movement of all registered vehicles.
Street lights are necessary, but they consume a lot of energy, which can be reduced with the use of smart lighting. Besides this, the lamp posts can also be fitted with additional sensors, or serve as WI-Fi network hotspots. The lamps can also adjust the brightness based on the presence of pedestrians, cyclists or cars. It employs a real-time mesh network to trigger neighbouring lights and creates a safe circle of light around a human occupant.
The main motive of smart cities is to make a comfortable and convenient life for its inhabitants. Therefore, smart city infrastructure is not complete without smart governance. Smart governance implies the use of ICT intelligently in order to improve decision making through better collaboration among different stakeholders, including government and citizens. Smart governance would be able to use data, evidence, and other resources to improve decision making and compliance towards the needs of the citizens.
Challenges and Benefits
AI is changing the way cities operate, deliver, and maintain public amenities, from lighting and transportation to connectivity and health services. However, the adoption can be obstructed by the selection of technology that doesn’t efficiently work together or integrate with other city services. Hence, it’s important to think about retrofitted solutions.
Another important thing to take care of while adopting AI is collaboration. For cities to truly benefit from the potential that smart cities offer, a change in mindset is required. The authorities should plan and across multiple departments. Though the budget can be another issue to consider, the results of the successful implementation of smart city components across the world prove that if implemented properly, smart cities are comparatively economical. Smart city transition not only creates jobs, but also helps save the environment, reduce energy expenditure, and generate more revenue.
This article was an extract taken from ‘Hands-On Artificial Intelligence for IoT.’ This book will help you learn different AI techniques such as machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement learning, and natural language processing to build smart IoT system. You will also gain the power of AI to handle real-time data coming from wearable devices. In short, by the end of the book, you will be able to build smart AI-powered IoT apps efficiently.