Las Vegas applies AI to smart city operations to detect faults and outages
Las Vegas, in Nevada, is using artificial intelligence to detect and fix issues within its IT systems, including those underpinning its various smart city projects. California-based FixStream said its deal with Las Vegas is the first implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) for IT operations in a smart city environment.
AI-led IT operations, or ‘AIOps’, affords smart cities to get a handle on their increasingly complex technology systems. By leveraging big data analytics and machine learning techniques, it also allows them to drive quicker responses, it reckons.
“It has made a huge difference in the way the city is managing virtually all of its systems, saving a significant amount of resources and enabling faster and better business decisions,” said Michael Sherwood, director of technology and innovation for the City of Last Vegas.
Originally deployed to streamline its IT systems, Las Vegas has now rolled out AIOps to watch over everything from vehicle traffic information and public safety systems to network infrastructure and trash collection.
“It’s all about customer experience, the same as in private sector. This allows us to understand our critical processes and, if they fail, to know where to go fix them. It brings a huge increase in efficiency and operational effectiveness,” said Sherwood.
FixStream, which supplies the same software to high-volume manufacturing companies, claims it is unusual among analytics firms in its narrow focus on IT and its advanced focus on machine learning.
“Until now, the IT function has had to manually correlate data from across the stack, which takes time, and results in errors – just because it had relied on humans dealing with millions of data points,” said Enzo Signore, chief marketing officer at FixStream.
Its AIOps software pulls massive volumes of data from across the IT ‘stack’, and processes it to reveal faults and identify fixes. “We provide a correlation engine that sits on top and detects patterns and problems.”
Signore explained: “In a city environment, or in high velocity manufacturing, say, if your systems don’t work, and it takes hours or day to work out why, then the city or factory slows to a crawl, and nothing gets done. We take data from all these devices, so we can identify the fault the moment the system goes down, and put it right.
“Yes, there is an endless number of vendors doing big data, analytics, and machine learning. But not many are doing it across the entire IT domain, for all business services. Yes, there are hundreds in the AI and big data field, but many fewer are focused on IT operations, and fewer still are applying machine learning in that environment.”
Las Vegas first applied the FixStream solution to its Oracle ERP infrastructure, and the business processes attached to it. “It was mainly payments and transactional systems,” said Sherwood. The higher intelligence of complex smart-city systems is crucial, however.
“When you start talking about a connected city – with sensors talking to sensors, talking to the cloud, and back again to make a light turn green or red – you engage with very complex systems, which require a chain of people to manage. Those systems are critical for the city, and its residents,” said Sherwood.
The city has applied AI to its connected and autonomous vehicle initiatives in its downtown area. Lyft is running trials with 40 autonomous cars, and latest-model Audi cars can also receive data feeds from the city.
“The system is built on very complicated processes, and if any one of them fails, then that information is not going to get through. It’s not the kind of thing one ‘tech’ in the IT department can manage alone,” said Sherwood.
Las Vegas has a mix of network technologies. “We are a network of many different types,” said Sherwood. But the roadways are threaded with fibre, in the main part, and connected vehicles in the city use Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC). Advanced LTE capability is built in. “5G is the future. All the tech we are installing is 5G and DSRC compatible.”
As it stands, the city is pushing updates about traffic signalling to Lyft cars, and certain Audi models. In the next months, it will also provide data about road and driving conditions, said Sherwood – “in the event the weather changes, or the vehicle is approaching a school.”
“The end point is where AIOps manages the entire process, from the trash collection, to the smart parking and street lights, to the roadway infrastructure and transaction systems.”
Last Vegas is leading the smart-city charge in North America, said Sherwood.
“There’s is no other city like Las Vegas. It is an innovation hub. In entertainment, business, and technology, it is always looking to provide new experiences to build the community. It is the leader in the US for smart city technologies – and not just around mobility, but also to address public safety, homelessness, and health and wellness.”