4 Use Cases That Demonstrate To You How AI Benefits Smart Cities

Today’s cities are more congested than ever before, in fact, UN studies suggest that by 2030 we will be seeing 43 megacities around the world, and by 2050, a whopping 68% of the world’s population will be living in cities. Fast-growing populations pose various environmental, societal, and economic challenges to cities. For instance, how can cities optimize infrastructure, enhance public safety, and respond to both natural and man-made calamities. Integrating smart technology into cities can help tackle these challenges and improve the standard of living for its residents, in other words, making the city smarter.

How can AI facilitate the smart city?

According to TWI Global, “a smart city uses information and communication technology (ICT) to improve operational efficiency, share information with the public and provide a better quality of government service and citizen welfare.” Smart city technologies require the processing of large amounts of data every day which can be time-consuming and costly. Artificial Intelligence (AI) acts as a catalyst leading to the smart transformation of cities.

AI-powered technologies can bring multiple benefits for different sectors, including more efficient city asset management, reduced pollution, and relieving traffic congestion. Despite the availability of AI technology, cities still face challenges regarding their deployment due to lack of expertise, and difficulty linking AI to possible use cases, as well as privacy and security concerns. NavInfo Europe is an expert in the field of AI and Computer Vision and has a deep understanding of how to apply AI in various applications that can facilitate smart cities.

Applications of AI in Smart Cities

1. Anonymization

Video data collection is necessary for various smart city applications such as parking, mapping, and crowd management, however, the data collected often includes sensitive, personal information like faces and license plates. According to GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, businesses should act more carefully and responsibly when processing personal data of individuals without their consent, as violating the regulation can cause great reputational and financial loss. To avoid this, businesses need to ensure that an individual’s personal information is not compromised during the processing and analysis of the collected data.

NavInfo Europe’s AI-powered anonymization algorithm ensures compliance with GDPR by blurring personal information such as faces and license plates and can guarantee that no personal information is processed. Our automated pipeline can significantly increase anonymization accuracy and allows organizations to save costs by avoiding manual work and human errors.

AI-powered license plate anonymization
AI-powered face anonymization

2. Road damage detection

Inspecting, detecting, classifying, and geo-locating road surface and road sign damage is vital for road maintenance which saves countless lives, and millions of dollars globally. However, in most cities, road inspection is usually done manually or with a semi-automated process that requires cautious scrutiny of technical experts which is both labor-intensive and time-consuming. This challenge is further exacerbated by the growing amounts of vehicle traffic, especially in large cities.

NavInfo Europe’s computer vision models can detect and classify a variety of road damages such as alligator cracks, transverse cracks, missing markings, potholes, etc. from real drive data. This automated process can provide evidence of predictive maintenance to road authorities. Cities can then benefit from efficient, smart road damage detection, improved road quality, effective resource management, and an overall safer environment for their residents.

Learn more about how AI models can drive road maintenance inspection here.

AI-powered road damage detection

3. Garbage Detection

For most modern cities, effective garbage and waste management present a challenging task. Different areas of the city vary in their waste disposal habits, as well as the volume of waste that they produce. For example, garbage containers can be insufficient in some locations of the city or overflow with trash bags and other types of garbage, but many city administrators still tackle these challenges with outdated technology and process. Computer vision-based automated garbage detection from video data can help cities track and analyze garbage discarding patterns.

NavInfo Europe’s garbage detection model can detect, classify and locate the littered garbage and overloaded containers. Thus, helping cities track and analyze garbage discarding patterns to enhance the planning of garbage collection and distribution. On one hand, it accommodates city residents through less nuisance caused by full containers or defective containers. On the other hand, the optimized collection route can also lead to a considerable CO2 emission reduction.

AI-powered garbage detection

4. Traffic Sign Detection

Within the EU, one of the main factors that lead to accidents is speeding, it is estimated that currently, around 40-50% of drivers go over the speed limit, causing a threat to road safety. To reduce this threat, the EU introduced a selection of technologies as part of the Genera Safety Regulations for motor vehicles. Among these technologies is the Intelligent Speed Assistant (ISA) which requests all vehicles to display speed limit on the dashboard and will be mandated starting 2022.

To facilitate the ISA system, computer vision-based technology can be deployed to collect along-road speed information, which can be either directly displayed on the dashboard, or fed to the map data with fresh and accurate speed limit information. NavInfo Europe’s AI model detects along with road speed information and other important traffic signs which helps the ISA system function accurately. Combined with localization and change detection, this technology ensures all the speed information is up to date in maps and enhances the overall ISA user experience.

Another challenge worth mentioning is the diverse nature of road signs around the world. Road signs from different regions may include different shapes, colors, positions, as well as text in various languages to convey the same message. To tackle this challenge, the AI model is trained with a diverse range of traffic signs to support seamless detection universally, thus meeting the requirements of clients worldwide.

AI-powered traffic sign detection


In conclusion, AI provides a means to facilitate and power smart city infrastructure in various use cases. However, organizations in the public and private sector struggle with finding suitable AI technologies to provide smart solutions, or lack the expertise to implement these technologies. As a trusted partner, NavInfo Europe aims to help organizations with AI strategy consulting, AI engineering services, and offering AI-driven solutions for road asset management and anonymization. With years of experience with AI-powered technology and a dedicated Advanced Research Lab, NavInfo Europe is confident in our abilities to address your organization’s needs and ensure you meet your business goals.

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