The role of AI and IoT in smart cities post-covid
The trend of urbanisation continues to accelerate across the globe. In fact, it is estimated that by 2050, over two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Such fast-paced change is likely to bring with it a host of issues, such as pollution, traffic and crime.
On top of this, Covid-19 has highlighted the vulnerabilities of urban spaces, with the virus able to spread quickly through travel hubs and dense populations. In fact, over 95% of Covid-19 cases have been in urban areas.
However, the pandemic has inspired a wave of digital transformation and confirmed technology’s role in the future of cities. In particular, the trend of smart cities has been accelerated by Covid-19.
What is a smart city?
- A smart city is an urban area that uses AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things) to collect data from people, devices and buildings, then analyses it to optimise infrastructure, traffic, air quality, waste management and more.
- Essentially, a smart city is a strategic collection of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and an intelligent framework of cloud-connected assets which can communicate and interact with one another.
Benefits of AI and IoT in smart cities
- Reduce energy costs and carbon emissions: With AI’s ability to monitor a city’s energy use and detect inefficiencies, data can be used to optimise usage and reduce costs.
- Improve air quality: Humidity, pollution, the presence of chemicals and air pressure can all be monitored in real time.
- Reduce traffic congestions: Smart traffic lights can respond to congestion flows, IoT systems in cars can sync up to electric charging points to reduce search time and real-time maps can identify parking spots.
- Optimise waste management: Smart garbage bins can signal density levels to waste management companies, thereby providing removal services as needed, as opposed to unoptimized pre-scheduled pick-ups.
Smart cities post-Covid
Post-Covid, the role of AI and IoT in smart cities will become increasingly important for our newfound focus on health and sustainability. Leaders have already begun to embrace digital transformations and shift their priorities.
• In London, a system initially created to monitor lockdown compliance by tracking vehicle numbers is now being used an air quality sensor.
• In Singapore, it has been noted that the government has recognised how important it is to accelerate nation-wide levels of digitalisation.
• China has effectively been using AI to help contain the pandemic through the use of real-time contact tracing and screening.
Likewise, IoT has enabled supply chains and field service management systems to upscale, optimise and effectively allocate resources across healthcare, food, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile, to create ‘Covid-secure’ workplaces, office buildings have introduced thermal imaging cameras (to monitor employee temperature levels), apps that track occupancy (to facilitate social distancing), and desk-booking systems (to prevent overcrowding and reduce contamination risks).
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