Smart Cities Centre of Emerging Technologies

Context of AI4 Smart Cities

India is currently in the midst of a surge of urbanisation. While the percentage of the population living in urban areas was estimated to be 31% in 2011, recent research on satellite data indicates that this figure is close 45% today, and predicted to rise to up-to 60 percent by 2050. Though seen as an important aspect of a country’s economic growth and a major step in the overall development of the country, unplanned urbanisation presents challenges such as congestion, over pollution, high crime rates, poor living standards, and can potentially put a huge burden on the infrastructure and administrative needs of existing Indian cities.

To tackle these challenges, the Government of India has embarked on an ambitious initiative to set up Smart Cities across India, aimed at driving economic growth and improving the quality of life, by harnessing IT solutions. As part of the Smart Cities Mission, 99 cities have been selected with expected investment of INR 2.04 lakh crores. The strategic components of these Smart Cities include city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (greenfield development) in addition to a pan-city initiative in which smart solutions are applied covering large parts of the city.

The adoption of AI has recently gained increasing attention in the smart cities context. AI is expected to significantly support sustainable development and provide a better quality of life to future smart cities; IoT and big data are being deployed to solve challenging problems in cities and identify better ways of urban management. Many AI and machine learning based use cases for cities are being developed that can be deployed into both brownfield and greenfield cities, helping to develop solutions that can make our cities resilient and adaptive to the challenges of the future. 

Beyond the headline numbers of economic impact, a disruptive technology such as AI needs to be seen from the perspective of the transformative impact it could have on the greater good – improving the quality of life. In that sense, the recent advancements in AI seem to be custom-made for the unique opportunities and challenges that India faces.

India provides a perfect “playground” for enterprises and institutions globally to develop scalable solutions which can be easily implemented in rest of the developing and emerging economies. Simply put, Solve for India means solve for 40% or more of the world. Another aspect of India’s potential as a leader in AI is it’s proven track record in technology solution provider of choice. Solved in India (or more accurately, solved by Indian IT companies) could be the model going forward for Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS).

World Economic Forum, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolutions- Centre of Emerging Technologies with Smart Cities Mission

World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) and Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, Government of India (SCM) have agreed to collaborate on a virtual interdisciplinary hub called Smart Cities Centre of Emerging Technologies (CoET) for developing:

·      Appropriate data governance frameworks in the context of India’s Smart Cities, leveraging on best practices developed as part of the G20 Smart Cities Alliance, for adoption at scale across the cities in India

·      An AI Strategy in the context of urban India which not only focuses on the why and what for AI and ML, but also takes a deeper look at the how- its successful creation, implementation and scalation across the country, covering key aspescts of data privacy, trust, policy, regulations, ethics, etc.

·      Undertake projects on the role of emerging technologies including IOT, Blockchain, Drones

The collaboration between SCM and C4IR will aim to enable formation of incentive-based, multi-stakeholder ecosystems in cities to allow for public-private collaboration on data, responsible technology deployment and evolving governance protocols. The collaboration will also produce playbooks for replicating such ecosystem development in other cities in India and globally.

Project Description- AI4 Smart Cities


Draft the AI Strategy and implementation roadmap for Smart Cities Mission in consultation with global AI experts and stakeholders through workshops and open sessions. This will include:

·      Analysing and identifying opportunities for AI impact across priority domains such as, but not limited to, mobility, safety and security, citizen services, utilities

·      Identification of scalable use-cases in priority domains and implementation approaches for them

·      Building technology and data maturity for AI adoption in priority domains/use-cases

·      Creation of AI maker environment for select priority domains with quadruple helix

·      Promoting AI talent and education in Smart Cities

·      Creation of framework to analyse AI adoption and deployment

C4IR and SCM will work with various stakeholders including Ministries, state governments, city administartive agencies, public sector agencies, corporates, academia, startups and civil society – to develop a model of engagement for the project.

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