Three smart city initiatives around the world
All around the world, cities are becoming smarter, greener, more efficient. In fact, according to a May 2019 study conducted by Grand View Research, the global smart city market is expected to reach $237.6 billion by 2025.
From small-scale trials focused on simplifying the commute to work or the process of donating to the homeless, to driverless vehicles, to the development of entire smart neighborhoods and cities, it is clear what the future of our urban environments will begin to look like, and as the below trials and initiatives suggest, we might be inching closer to that future.
Electric driverless cabs in Paris
Arval’s initiative is on a much smaller scale, targeting its employees at its Paris headquarters by providing them with the opportunity to experience an electric taxi, ahead of the official trial, expected to take place in March 2020.
During the trial, users will be able to book a 15-passenger vehicle using a smartphone from the nearest train station and take it to the HQ building in Rueil-Malmaison, and then back again.
Considered first time a private company in France has tested an autonomous electric vehicle, the project is part of an international research and development network, with other projects to be trialed in the Netherlands, Norway and France.
Arval’s chairman and CEO Alain Van Groenendael called the innovation a way to “test a safe, environmentally friendly transport solution, which could be used by our customers and their employees in the future.”
Sensors for AI cycle route planning in London
Transport for London (TfL) has been utilizing sensors from Vivacity Labs at two busy locations in the city since 2018 in an effort to better plan and operate cycle routes. Now, the company is introducing 43 more sensors at 20 central London locations to gather data and run further tests.
Previously, TfL has relied largely on manual traffic counts to figure out how many cyclists are using a road. Knowing these numbers helps establish the demand for new cycle routes, supporting future route planning and construction.
However, manual traffic counts are performed at limited locations along the road network, and therefore, provide only a snapshot of use.
Using AI, the sensors gather data 24 hours a day, detecting road users and deciphering the mode of transport they are using. The trial found that the Vivacity sensors are up to 98 percent more accurate than manual methods.
In addition to detecting cyclists, the sensors also sense people walking and other types of traffic, including cars, HGVs, vans, motorcyclists and buses, providing a possible path to a better understanding of a greater demand, beyond that of bikers, along the road network.
Glynn Barton, TfL’s director of network management, commented, “We’re always looking for innovative new ways of making our roads safer and more efficient. New data from trials such as this will be really valuable as we invest and make day-to-day decisions to enable more people to walk and cycle.”
Part of a wider program of modernization, the sensors have the potential to link up to London’s traffic signals and control center systems to provide data in real-time.
Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Transport Strategy target is for 80% of London’s commutes to be made by walking, cycling and public transport by 2041.
Indonesia’s new capital city: Borneo
On a much larger scale than the first two initiatives, Indonesia is looking to establish a new, connected capital city. Indonesia’s current capital city, Jakarta, is becoming a more and more challenging place to call home. It is congested with 30 million people and pollution, is prone to natural disasters and is rapidly sinking.
In response, the Indonesian government has been checking out Borneo, the world’s third largest island, as an attractive option for a new capital. And perhaps to avoid the challenges currently being faced by Jakarta, the new capital is being planned as a smart city to be filled with electric vehicles, modern monorails and drone taxis.
Investors, especially from Hong Kong and China, have been showing a strong interest in the project. In addition, Masayoshi Son, the founder of Japanese telecom and investment conglomerate SoftBank, has recently expressed his own company’s interest in backing the new technology-focused city.
The new capital city will be located in a now-forested area of Borneo and the shift is due to be complete by the end of 2024.
“We won’t discuss the specific number yet, but a new smart city, the newest technology, a clean city and a lot of AI–that’s what I’m interested in supporting,” Son told The Jakarta Post.
SoftBank has been very active in the smart city sector as of late. Last month, SoftBank partnered with Indonesia property developer Lippo Karawaci for the development and deployment of AI and IoT-powered solutions in Lippo Village in Karawaci, near Jakarta.
And in 2018, the company announced a partnership with Dublin City to help shape smart city deployments in Dublin.