How Cities Are Getting Smart Using Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) deals with the use of machines that act in similar (or maybe higher) intellectual capacities as humans. It is a term most often used for machines that replicate cognitive human abilities in relating to their environment and other humans. Artificially intelligent computers are designed for certain things, some of which include learning, problem-solving, planning and speech recognition.

Artificial intelligence or the thought of it has been around for as long as the ancient Greek and Egypt civilization but was officially founded in the mid-twentieth century. From the summer of 1956 to date, it has only grown more popular ever since and much more work has been put into this field in recent years.

Smart Cities Using AI

There are many ways in which this field of science can be useful to the world. Artificial intelligence has already been used in different fields already and there are many more fields in which it can be useful, ranging from the medical field to education, sports, aviation, finance etc. It is already being used in many of these industries and can only get better in the coming years as cities are beginning to invest in it as part of their plans for a better livelihood.

What a smart city looks like

Before you start to wonder, it’s not difficult to know what a smart city is, there are 3 main criteria or core values regarded as a prerequisite for a city to be considered smart;

  1. Living condition: The living conditions in the city must be clean and healthy and void of pollution. The city must not be overpopulated or congested in such a way that makes digital infrastructure and basic services unavailable or inaccessible by anyone at an instance.
  2. Working condition: The city has to put some structures in place and provide the infrastructure that enables global competitiveness for high-quality jobs. This includes the enabling working environment which people go after in their desire for living in smart cities.
  3. Sustainable living: All the services to be provided must put future generations into consideration. It must not be detrimental to the coming ones. This must also put into consideration, the technological advancements that will not threaten the life expectancy of humans generally.

Artificial intelligence and smart cities

The need for smart cities cannot be overemphasized. The number of people moving into the cities to seek good jobs and a better livelihood increases yearly and this is beginning to cause all sorts of problems ranging from increased crime rate to pollution and congestion etc. this has created problems which can be best solved by becoming smart.

As stated earlier, artificial intelligence is being used in healthcare for diagnosing disease and to increase the quality of public health. It is also used to control traffic in transportation, for facial recognition in solving crimes and ensuring the safety of the public. It is used in manufacturing, online retail, and marketing etc.

Related: Smart Dustbins for Smart Cities! | PlanningTankApplications of Machine Learning

Some of the ways through which cities are deploying artificial intelligence to become smarter are:

1. Power supply and consumption: Smart cities are using AI to facilitate power supply from two perspectives. Suppliers use AI to enhance power generation and distribution, while consumers use AI to minimize consumption. From the suppliers’ perspective, smart cities are now enhancing power supply through the use of ‘Smart Grid’ which is an AI-powered electrical grid that enhances power distribution based on the information it collects from consumers’ behavior. Through this initiative, smart cities are now able to step up efficiency in distribution and they can now supply power in line with specific needs.

From the consumers’ perspective, giant companies like Google can now efficiently plan and minimize their power consumption and operating cost simultaneously. For example, Google uses its AI-based ‘DeepMind’ technology to monitor activities of its servers and to activate or intensify cooling only when it is needed. According to Google, AI has helped to reduce its power requirement by more than 30%. This helps to maximize the efficiency of work at a cheaper rate.

2. Security: Cities that have begun to use artificial intelligence have found it easier to combat crimes and this has led to a reduction in crime rate and a larger percentage of solved cases. The use of the camera for surveillance will only increase. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 1 billion cameras around the world.

Monitoring the various cameras has always been and always will be a tedious task for humans, let alone analyzing and processing the videos. AI has been used to recover stolen vehicles and catch criminals as well. With the use of automated license plate reader, capable of scanning up to 1800 plates per minutes, it alerts the police when it finds a plate that has been flagged for any violation.

3. Traffic: You will be amazed by the whopping cost or economic loss due to traffic congestion. There are more vehicles in smart cities and traffic activities tend to be more pronounced during certain periods of the day and at some road axes than others. Therefore, there is a need to depart from the rigid traffic lights towards the more flexible traffic control system that aids traffic flow based on real-time traffic data. The answer here is artificial intelligence.

Smart Cities

AI is now being used to counter traffic congestion with its application in adaptive traffic light signal control. AI helps to regulate traffic by manipulating traffic light timing according to the flow of traffic from different axes of the road at different periods. This allows easy movement and largely reduces the amount of time people spend on the road, thereby increasing productivity in smart cities. AI-powered traffic control system is already being used in cities like Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Antonio and many other cities around the world.

4. Education: It has helped to increase the quality of education by assessing the study pattern of different students to know what areas they are good at and what areas they require help, in other to help them get better. There are many other sectors and many other ways in which artificial intelligence has been used in smart cities and many other ways in which it will be put to use in the future. Human resource management, logistics, and supply chains, aviation, telecommunications etc. are few of the areas where artificial intelligence is gaining grounds and this can only get better.


The increased use of artificial intelligence in smart cities has helped to encourage the efficient use of resources and better productivity, thereby increasing the sustainability of the cities. As the population in other cities continue to rise due to migration, these cities are becoming smarter with the use of AI and this is bound to increase in the coming years. The earlier we begin to acknowledge the fact that AI is here to stay, the better our chances of making the best out of it.

Also Read: City Leaders are selling us to Tech Giants. And it’s Disturbing!