September 7, 2017

A Look Into the Future of Smart Cities

An article published some five years ago [1] in a European scholarly journal provides a glimpse into the future.

Smart cities of the future will of course use information and computer technologies (ICT) and merge them with traditional infrastructures (highways, signage, traffic lights, etc.).    The authors describe six areas of research, to move the smart city concept from theory to reality.  First, “relate city infrastructure to operational functioning, through management, control and optimization.”  This is Waycare’s professed goal, for traffic management.  Second, make the city a ‘laboratory for innovation’.  Waycare initially offers short pilot tests of the platform for cities, precisely as ‘laboratories for innovation’.  Third, design cities’ traffic flows and management for future needs; fourth, implement technologies that offer a better quality of life for city-dwellers; fifth, apply technologies that create shared knowledge for democratic city governance; and last, and most important, ensure greater, more effective mobility for all city dwellers.

Five years ago, the authors wrote:  “Within the next 20 years most of the data that we will use to understand cities will come from digital sensors of our transactions…  to interpret such data we need to exploit and extend a variety of data mining techniques….  The idea of crowd-sourcing [is] key to many new data sets that will be useful to smart cities…  the basic ingredient or the new wave of city analytics that has emerged during the last decade is big data sets concerning human mobility, fostered by…wireless technologies [and] GPS…These big mobility data provide a powerful social microscope, which help us… discover the hidden patterns and models that characterize the trajectories humans follow during their daily activity.”

This is very much in line with Waycare’s vision of future cities.  As vehicles generate massive amounts of data, and as new forms data analytics continue to emerge, enormous potential arises for cities to rethink current traffic management systems.  Waycare is on the cutting edge of this important new trend; even though the authors heralded this technological development five years ago, in 2012, little real progress has been made in implementing it.  Waycare pilots with cities across the U.S. is changing that.

The authors write, “explanations of why traffic significantly varies from one day to another…is extremely weak…we consider that new ICT will provide us with dramatically new data sets that will inform this problem”.

The issue, in fact, is not the data sets, but rather the technology used analyze them.  This is Waycare’s focus and vision.  Using Deep Learning and neural networks, waycare is helping turn city and vehicle data into meaningful insights for optimization of mobility on our roads.

In the next few blogs we will explain what is Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and how are these technologies are being utilized.

[1]  M. Batty et al.,   Smart cities of the future.  European Physical Journal, 214, 481-518 (2012).

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