Video surveillance is a popular area of AI deployment but the coronavirus pandemic could also see more use of the technology to better co-ordinate public health responses.
The global smart city artificial intelligence (AI) software market is set to increase to $4.9 billion in 2025, up from $673.8 million in 2019, according to new analysis from analyst house Omdia. This represents a seven-fold rise.
As 4G and 5G are making it easier to collect and manage data, AI is enabling deeper analysis of that data. It can be used to automatically identify patterns or anomalies within data.
Video surveillance is a key area but the coronavirus pandemic could see a bigger focus on the use of AI to better co-ordinate public health responses, Omdia said.
“From video surveillance to traffic control to street lighting, smart city use cases of all types are defined by the collection, management and usage of data,” said Keith Kirkpatrick, principal analyst for AI, Omdia. “However, until recently, connecting disparate components and systems together to work in concert has been challenging due to the lack of connectivity solutions that are fast, cost-effective, low latency and ubiquitous in coverage.
"These challenges now are being overcome by leveraging advances in AI and connectivity.”
The Artificial Intelligence Applications for Smart Cities report notes that cities can use AI technologies such as machine learning, deep learning, computer vision and natural language processing to save money and deliver benefits to workers and visitors. These can include reduced crime, cleaner air and decreased congestion as well as more efficient government services.
Omdia highlights the example of using AI with video surveillance. When hosting public events, some cities are beginning to use video cameras that are linked to AI-based video analytics technology. AI algorithms scan the video and look for behavioural or situational anomalies that could indicate that a terrorist act or other outbreaks of violence may be about to occur.
Further, Omdia says cities are increasingly employing cloud-based AI systems that can search footage from most closed-circuit TV (CCTV) systems, allowing the platform and technology to be applied to existing camera infrastructure.
Video surveillance can also be combined with AI-based object detection to detect faces, gender, heights and even moods; read licence plates; and identify anomalies or potential threats, such as unattended packages.
"From video surveillance to traffic control to street lighting, smart-city use cases of all types are defined by the collection, management and usage of data."
“As the use of surveillance cameras has exploded, AI-based video analytics now represent the only way to extract value in the form of insights, patterns, and action from the plethora of video data generated by smart cities,” Omdia’s research note says.
Kirkpatrick told SmartCitiesWorld it’s too soon to say what the impact of coronavirus will be on smart city AI deployment and spending.
But, he said: “My gut feeling is that AI programmes that are focused largely on efficiency, revenue generation and cost savings will remain in place. However, new initiatives or spending slated for 2021 or 2022 may get pushed back.”
He added: “If I had to pick an area that may see increasing spending, it would be around efforts to better co-ordinate public health response using AI, but that will largely depend on the municipality."
Omdia plans to revisit the forecast later in the year when there is more clarity on the financial impact of coronavirus.
The use of AI in cities also raises some concerns around privacy, bias, accuracy and possible manipulation.
Some cities are beginning to take steps to demonstrate oversight. In November, Singapore launched its first AI strategy. The City of New York is hiring an Algorithms Management and Policy Officer (AMPO), who will be responsible for ensuring AI tools used in decision-making are fair and transparent.
Omdia was established in February following the merger of the research division of Informa Tech (Ovum, Heavy Reading and Tractica) and the acquisition of the IHS Markit technology research portfolio.
You might also like: