According to a new study held on behalf of the Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA) committee of the European Parliament, AI is ‘driving’ the future of urban mobility and smart cities, bringing multiple benefits to the way they work and develop. The focus of the study is to answer the question of how such a technology can apply to this field and foster urban development.

In particular, the study covers the following questions:
• How can AI support new smart applications in smart cities, such as management of energy and water supply at district level, solutions for new services for inhabitants and businesses?
• How can AI be used to improve urban mobility (reducing traffic congestion and air pollution, increasing safety and inter-modality)?
• What type of hurdles do municipalities need to overcome to facilitate the deployment of these technologies?

The research findings revealed the challenges that local authorities will have to overcome from a technological, social, and regulatory standpoint, namely in the areas of technology and data availability and reliability, dependency on third private parties and lack of skills, ethical challenges for the unbiased use of AI and the difficulty of regulating interdependent infrastructures and data, respectively. At present, those challenges undermine urban digital transformation which as highlighted above, would bring significant benefits and solutions.

In addition, the study shares some solutions to the identified challenges, including:

  • EU-wide support for infrastructure and governance on digitalisation, including high-performance computing, integrated circuits, CPUs and GPU’s, 5G, cloud services, Urban Data
    Platforms, enhancing efficiency and ensuring at the same time unbiased data collection.
  • Inclusion of urban AI in EU research programs addressing data exchange, communication networks, and policy on mobility and energy, enhancing capacity building initiatives, also
    through test and experimentation facilities.
  • Harmonising AI-related policies in the EU, taking into account the context specificity: necessary research.
  • Adoption of innovative procurement procedures, entailing requirements for technical and ethically responsible AI.

AI can take cities to the next step of utilising the data and knowledge to support decision-making, boosting their digital transformation and enabling them to reach their full technological potential. Recognising the challenges that local governments, citizens, and other smart city stakeholders face, it is important to stimulate the necessary critical mass and prioritise actions to ensure that a multidisciplinary framework is put in place, hence responding to the growing digital needs of citizens and cities.

Learn more on the study held on behalf of the AIDA committee here 

Note: Original photo retrieved from the research paper. All rights reserved.