The evolution of Smart Cities has been inspiring and remarkable to watch. In the recent past, a typical resident might not have found the technical description of a smart city all that enticing, but today, citizens are more aware and more conscious. They are far more concerned about the environment and climatic changes.
Government and civic agencies across various countries, with the help of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology, are focusing on reducing carbon footprints, improving infrastructure, and meeting the sustainability goals of smart cities.
Did you know that according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, ‘Smart Cities’ have the potential to refine the basic quality of life by 10-30%? It can reduce crimes, lower carbon emissions, better health management and improve traffic management and deliver an enhanced quality of life.
McKinsey Global Institute’s report stated that cities house more than half of the world’s population, and another 2.5 billion people are predicted to move there by 2050.
Today, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), the two concepts that have a major role to play in the development of Smart Cities, are better understood.
What are Smart Cities and Where Does Technology Come into Play?
Let’s begin by understanding the definition of a Smart City. Smart Cities are an intelligent culmination of data and digital technology. They are synonymous with intelligent economic and civic infrastructure with minimal carbon footprints.
It ensures that its citizens enjoy cutting-edge technology, utility, and mobility while eliminating bureaucratic red tape. At the end of the day, a Smart City’s ultimate goal is to improve people’s quality of life, simplify living, boost economic growth, and contribute to its long-term development.
But, is it enough for cities to just fall under the Smart Cities bracket and do little to meet their sustainability goals? That’d be a very unlikely situation. Smart Cities can only be successful if they are built keeping the people as well as the environment in mind.
According to Unesco,
“A smart sustainable city is an innovative city that uses ICTs (information and communication technologies) and other means to improve quality of life, the efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, environmental as well as cultural aspects.”
AI in Smart Cities
From more accessible, efficient services to lowering people’s overall carbon footprint, the many smart city technologies now available and on the horizon might cut expenses, increase safety, better protect the environment, and improve our quality of life.
Traffic Flow Management
Intelligent Traffic Management systems can help to alleviate traffic congestion by warning vehicles of bottlenecks and delays. Using Deep Learning algorithms, it can predict and reduce traffic, hence lowering carbon emissions. Traffic infraction detection systems and AI-enabled cameras can drastically minimize road accidents.
AI is used to evaluate real-time traffic data from cameras and IoT devices, such as vehicles like cars, buses, and trains. It recognizes patterns in data and decreases safety hazards and reoccurring accidents, as well as controlling traffic light systems.
Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming the world around us, and smart city technology, such as parking management and traffic control systems, is one of the most effective answers it offers. With the use of artificial intelligence, one may properly forecast the flow of people, cars, and objects at various locations of interconnected transportation networks.
Smart Parking Spots
Parking has always been one of the major concerns for urban residents, and spending even five minutes looking for a parking spot can be overwhelming. Smart parking spots will allow commuters to reserve parking reservations through a mobile app, reducing the amount of time spent looking for parking spots, cutting urban traffic, lessening our carbon footprint, and conserving gasoline.
AI video analytics can detect the number of vehicles and identify parking lines, thus helping in predicting vacant parking spots. This system comes especially handy when a big public event, concert, or game is about to take place and there are high chances of congestion and struggle to park. AI can assist in identifying likely busy regions and recommending the best parking spots. It can assist drivers in avoiding traffic and saving time.
By now, several countries are already leveraging intelligent parking systems to help their citizen save time as well as money. The parking system first spots vacant parking and notify through an app or an indicator. It can also assist in locating available parking spaces in congested places where traffic flow is frequently excessive.
This innovative parking solution collates data from different devices including sensors and cameras. Most of the time, these devices are embedded into the parking lots or are somewhere in proximity to instantly locate vacant spots.
Infrastructure data is truly a blessing. It empowers smart cities as well as different modes of transportation. Today, people have the luxury to opt for alternative transportation like e-bikes, and electric vehicles. Benefit from the usage of 4G, 5G, and IoT sensors to better analyze traffic patterns, trends, and effects through AI, cutting travel time, reducing unproductive idling, and lowering total climate impact.
In electric cars, AI assists in the control of energy consumption, safety, security, and the construction of a pollution-free eco-friendly environment, which is a wish of today’s and tomorrow’s civilizations.
Recently, computer giant Acer launched e-bikes powered by advanced artificial intelligence. The bike, aimed at urban commuters, weighs only 16kg and has been calibrated for “stable and nimble riding,” according to Acer. The intelligent ebiiAssist learns from the rider’s pedaling force, riding circumstances, and chosen level of help to provide a more personalized experience.
Is it even possible to fathom a smart city without thinking of a smart Energy Management System (EMS)? Now the next question is, what is energy management based on? Mostly, it is based on cutting-edge climate and geospatial technology powered by AI and data analytics. They have the ability to improve our reaction to climate change as well as the overall environmental quality of smart cities.
Energy Management System is a software-based solution that assists companies and businesses in monitoring, controlling, and optimizing their energy usage. Some of the top players in the global energy management systems market are IBM Corporation, General Electric Co., Cisco Systems Inc., and Siemens AG.
Consumers and businesses are becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of their actions and are seeking for solutions to lower their carbon footprint. This is driving the use of EMS solutions as a means of reducing energy consumption and meeting sustainability goals. The growing popularity of smart homes and buildings is driving the use of EMS solutions in the building automation market.
According to Vantage Market Research, the global energy management systems market was valued at $36.4 billion in 2021 and is predicted to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.8% from 2022 to 2028.
- Because of their flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, cloud-based EMS solutions are gaining popularity. These solutions allow for remote monitoring and control of energy consumption, making it easier for businesses to optimize their energy consumption.
- MS solutions include the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to enhance energy efficiency and save expenses. IoT sensors can give real-time data on energy consumption, which AI algorithms can analyze and discover areas for improvement.
- With the growing use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, EMS solutions are being developed to control and optimize their utilization. Integration with smart grids and battery storage systems is required to ensure an efficient and dependable energy supply.
- EaaS models are gaining popularity, especially in the commercial and industrial sectors. These models enable enterprises to outsource their energy management to third-party providers, who deploy EMS technologies to optimize energy consumption and save expenses.
Water Pressure and Leak Detection
According to the American Water Works Association, the 237,600 water line breaks that occur in the United States each year cost public water utilities around $2.8 billion.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, aging, leaking pipes drain 7 billion gallons every day from our water systems. The World Bank estimated that non-revenue water (NRW) – the cost of water lost due to leaks, as well as standard theft and billing problems – is approaching $14 billion globally.
The World Bank estimated that non-revenue water (NRW) – the cost of water lost due to leaks, as well as standard theft and billing problems – is approaching $14 billion globally.
These numbers are worrisome. But, we have smart technologies to fix it. In the past decade, smart water meters have been the highlight of this evolution. Water losses in municipal water systems could be drastically reduced with the help of sensors and modern artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
- The technique, developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo in partnership with industrial partners, can detect even minor leaks in pipelines. It uses sophisticated signal processing techniques and artificial intelligence software to detect leaks in water pipelines via sound.
- The audio signals are captured by hydrophone sensors, which may be readily and inexpensively put in existing fire hydrants without the need for excavation or shutting them down.
- Aside from the economic implications of losing treated water, chronic leaks can pose health risks, cause structural damage, and degrade with time.
Air Quality Prediction and Automated Actions
Air pollution has a negative impact on millions of individuals around the world and global solutions are the only way to address these global issues. Artificial intelligence is a practical technique to dealing with and reducing air pollution. AI can collect sensor and satellite data and assist academics in the blending of climate models.
Let’s take a look at how artificial intelligence-based solutions for cleaner air.
- Artificial intelligence has the potential to improve data collecting and qualitative measurement. AI can detect patterns in data sets to aid with analysis.
- AI can forecast future air quality and direct relevant agencies to take the necessary actions ahead of time.
- Artificial intelligence can provide maintenance insights for sensors and other equipment.
- AI and IoT provide recommended tools for real-time monitoring of air pollution. AI technology can swiftly and correctly identify sources of air pollution. Smart sensors, for example, can identify the source of a gas leak in a company and effectively apply corrective measures.
- AI can aid in the reduction of air pollution in the automotive zone. AI technology allows autonomous vehicles to be fuel-efficient. AI-powered traffic signals can potentially help to reduce air pollution. We can utilize machine vision to adjust to traffic flow, reducing driving time.
AI technologies can greatly help government organizations and commercial firms by monitoring air purity levels and alerting personnel if air quality falls below a specific threshold.
- IBM researchers are collaborating with the Beijing government to use artificial intelligence to combat air pollution and monitor environmental health. Machine learning and cognitive abilities are being used by researchers to increase forecast accuracy. AI can help predict air pollution levels 10 days in advance. Scientists are combining artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to do scenario analysis and take necessary measures such as traffic control, plant shutdowns, and more.
- Scientists at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom have created an AI-based algorithm that predicts air quality in advance. The model examines sensor data and assists policymakers in understanding the reasons and methods for reducing air pollution.
- CleanAir. AI is a Canadian IoT firm that provides air filtration for homes and buildings using AI-based technology. The startup employs AI and IoT to provide actionable information on indoor and outdoor air quality, deliver cleaner air, and save energy.
A smart city has a wide range of components, and each one has its effects on the quality of urban dwellers. How we live, work, and play will change as smart cities grow and become more connected. From weather monitoring and pollution management to saving energy and water and waste management, Smart Cities may be a work in progress but they are gradually becoming the epitome of urban living.