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#TECH: Powering Smart Cities with AI

Aerial view of city at night. Social media connection concept. Photo manipulation.

AI is expected to be one of the driving technologies for smart cities.

The current pandemic has forced cities across the globe to change, becoming more competitive, productive and smart.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to be one of the driving technologies for smart cities. As countries around the world plan for their smart cities, spending on technologies like AI is expected to increase too.

According to market research firm Frost & Sullivan, the spending on technology in the next six years is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.7 per cent, reaching US$327 billion by 2025 from US$96 billion in 2019.

The company said technologies, like AI and big data, will be in high demand, with growing opportunities for crowd analytics, open data dashboards and online city services.

How Does AI Play a Part?

According to Skymind, a global developer of AI infrastructure, the current volatile economic landscapes and unprecedented global disasters like the Covid-19 pandemic have forced cities across the globe to change and become more competitive, productive and smart. Skymind’s chief executive officer Shawn Tan said countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia, have already kicked off initiatives in the smart city race.

“The efforts made by these countries include smart traffic control, safety management, waste management and online education and research initiatives,” he said.

Shawn Tan, Ceo, Skymind

With rising populations and increasing migration, cities will need to better manage and strategise the use of resources to create safe, efficient and sustainable living and working environments; build resilient societies and economies; and be attractive to investments to create career and business opportunities.

Although implementation of so-called smart systems and automation has often been seen as a solution, they are no longer adequate to the creation of smart cities.

Innovation is key to create “intelligent” cities that are truly sustainable and able to generate impactful values.

The development of intelligent cities is multi-layered and multidisciplinary.

“Industry (IR 4.0) technologies, like AI, are key for data insight and optimisation to develop new innovations and technology-related ideas to power more robust infrastructure and elevate public services to new levels and create greater economic impact,” said Tan.

“Through impactful data analytics and AI-driven initiatives, true smart cities can grow and multiply to become smart regions and ultimately create a smart nation,” Tan added.

Local Situation

Commenting on whether Malaysia is on the right path towards becoming a smart city nation, Tan said efforts undertaken in Malaysia thus far have yet to realise the true value proposition of smart cities.

“However, with the right AI city framework, it will be on the right track,” he said.

In Skymind’s definition, future cities’ primary focus should be on the creation of a high-impact economy through innovation in order to have a highly efficient city and sustainable living.

“This will transform Malaysia into a reputable, high-income and sustainable AI nation,” he added.

Programmes to prepare the right AI-ready talent are also needed to drive and sustain the development of smart cities in the country.

Implementing AI in Smart Cities

The implementation of AI in smart city development is best done through partnerships.

“To help achieve this vision, partnerships are essential. So too is technological sovereignty,” said Tan.

Organisations in a smart city can only thrive if they are not trapped in a technology lock-in, have control over their intellectual property, are not plagued by data breach and business continuity issues as well as faced with a talent deficit in their AI-driven endeavour.
“Skymind is on a mission to bring partners together to build an ecosystem to realise the true value proposition of smart cities in Malaysia,” said Tan.

“We believe future cities must have full ownership of their tech or AI models and solutions to ensure technology sovereignty and avoid data breach, and business continuity issues. This is done through open sourcing our technology, having on-premise and edge solutions,” he added.

Source: | 2 December 2020