AI-enabled solutions help solve persistent problems in public transport, public safety and security, and information dissemination
More than half of the world’s population now live in cities—around 56% of the world’s population, or around 4.4 billion inhabitants, live in urban areas. By 2050, this figure is expected to grow to 68%. This figure is generally higher in developed countries where 79.2% of people live in cities. In Asia alone, the degree of urbanisation was 52% in 2022.
The expanding number of city residents puts pressure on transport networks, public spaces, and other aspects of the city. To address these prevailing urban challenges, cities rapidly deploy digital technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), smart sensors and meters, as well as 5G and other wireless networks, to automate services and improve government processes.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming an invaluable tool in urban planning and resource mobilisation, enabling governments to perform more efficiently, optimise service delivery, and keep costs down.
By 2040, it is expected that AI innovations will usher in fully automated and connected public transport systems in major cities. AI applications in intelligent public transport include monitoring and collecting traffic data to improve mobility and alleviate congestion.
To improve highway networks, operators use AI to predict traffic congestion and monitor highway safety. LTA Singapore, for one, deploys sensors that gather traffic information and employs smart traffic light systems that analyse real-time information for traffic optimisation.
AI technologies also help ensure safety at bus stops and train stations, especially with large crowds. Real-time frequency management can gauge crowd density, analyse people’s movements, and detect dirty areas at bus stops and train stations. It can also help optimise the cleaning and maintenance of bus stops and train stations, thereby reducing operating costs.
Additionally, through movement analysis, operators can spot aberrant passenger behaviour, such as sprinting and fighting, to prevent any undue incidents in public transport. It can also help prevent malfunctions and accidents, by detecting objects and people in restricted areas.
In Singapore, apps like Bot MD use AI methods such as natural language processing, data mining, chatbot, and search functions to provide doctors and frontline health workers with real-time information on the latest COVID-19 protocols.
AI-enabled technologies can also be used to address navigation issues and staff shortages in information kiosks, especially during large public events. Information kiosks can be fitted with a conversational AI that can answer frequently asked questions and direct people to certain locations and landmarks. This AI kiosk is a personalised virtual assistant that helps people navigate the city and event venues.