This article is available also in spanish here
City Brain: what happens when we connect a city’s traffic lights to Alibaba
My list

Author | Marcos MartínezIn 1950, there was only one city with a population exceeding 10 million. Today, the ten most populated cities have over 268 million people, with around 26.86 million people living in their urban areas. If in a few years’ time 70% of the population will live in cities, perhaps it would be interesting for cities to be able to work as smart entities.Brain cities no longer form part of hard science fiction. Thanks to technologies such as Amazon Rekognition, used in Orlando, Florida and Washington County (Oregon) or Alibaba City Brain, used in Hangzhou, capital of the province of Zhejiang (China), the idea of smart cities is getting closer to the literal sense of the term.

This is how City Brain works in Hangzhou

Imagine having the GPS of the majority of a city’s vehicles in a single database, as well as real-time data from video cameras, traffic lights or updated maps of the city; and this information is added to the historical data from previous days, weeks and months.The result is CityBrain, Hangzhous total traffic control system designed by Alibaba, which the city’s local government could not refuse. The private consortium began in Hangzhou a few decades ago as distributors of goods and today they are leaders in the capture, aggregation and management of data.City Brain and traffic lights used in HangzhouNow, a cloud brain determines how traffic lights work and with it, traffic has become more efficient. In other words, vehicles can travel at higher speeds (+15%) and at a much more constant level (fewer stops and shorter braking).Furthermore, incident detection precision has improved in Hangzhou by 92%. This has enabled the emergency service response times to be notably reduced by 3 minutes on average and 50% probabilities of arriving within 7 minutes of the accident.

Amazon Rekognition, software used by the police

Police all around the world are beginning to use artificial intelligence tools, enabling cold cases to be rescued and launching virtual baits to trap dangerous delinquents. AI is also behind the European programme VALCRI to identify potential suspects. Likewise, in the US, Amazon Rekognition is being successfully tested.Rekognition operates in a similar way to City Brain or Agricultural Brain, the latter also run by Alibaba, but focusing on the agricultural sector. The system is optimized based on patterns, and in this case the patterns are people.City Brain and traffic lights used in HangzhouThe Amazon algorithm has been used for some time now in Oregon to locate suspects. The system works particularly well compared with other systems used by the London Police (which fails 96% of the time), although it does raise an ethical issue regarding permanent surveillance and the Bentham panopticon.

Can I be monitored for the security of others?

For big data systems and brain cities to work, data needs to come from somewhere. In general terms, that somewhere is us, citizens, and, although remaining anonymous in some applications, we are still being monitored. This opens up an important unresolved debate regarding individual freedoms and collective security.Is it legitimate to monitor an entire population with the aim of guaranteeing its security? It is worth noting that while Europe works on public projects backed by recent data protection laws, China and North America are heading towards private systems in which the systems are “black boxes”, such as with Alibaba and Amazon.As verified, these systems work, and they do so exceptionally well. However, citizens do not have access to the logical and virtual processes that have been followed by the machines in order to make the decisions that may affect them.Images | iStock/zhudifeng, Alibaba Cloud, iStock/pixinoo

Related content
IoT security solutions: How to prevent IoT attacks?
IoT security solutions: How to prevent IoT attacks?
The six most groundbreaking urban innovations of 2021
The six most groundbreaking urban innovations of 2021
Why Corporate Innovation Needs Transformation
Why Corporate Innovation Needs Transformation
What is the Internet of Things or IoT? Definition and examples
What is the Internet of Things or IoT? Definition and examples
Accelerating Cities' Digital Transformation with Technologies
Accelerating Cities' Digital Transformation with Technologies
What is digital infrastructure and examples of its application
What is digital infrastructure and examples of its application
Governing the twin transition: Transforming today’s challenges into future opportunities
Governing the twin transition: Transforming today’s challenges into future opportunities
AI & CITIES
AI & CITIES
Proprietary or open-source software? Arguments in favor and against
Proprietary or open-source software? Arguments in favor and against
What are the three main goals of database lifecycle management (DLM)?
What are the three main goals of database lifecycle management (DLM)?
Governments in digital transformation: five areas of action
Governments in digital transformation: five areas of action
What is a smart factory and how will it impact industry?
What is a smart factory and how will it impact industry?
How digitalization is transforming government in emerging economies
How digitalization is transforming government in emerging economies
Medical apps for patients: how can they improve public health?
Medical apps for patients: how can they improve public health?
Velodyne, NavVis and Qualcomm Technologies Working Together to Build Smart Cities Faster
Velodyne, NavVis and Qualcomm Technologies Working Together to Build Smart Cities Faster
In battle with U.S., China to focus on 7 ‘frontier’ technologies from chips to brain-computer fusion
In battle with U.S., China to focus on 7 ‘frontier’ technologies from chips to brain-computer fusion
Vintage technology: 'It sounds so much cleaner'
Vintage technology: 'It sounds so much cleaner'
Designers in Tech: How Architecture Is Unlocking the Potential of New Emerging Technologies
Designers in Tech: How Architecture Is Unlocking the Potential of New Emerging Technologies
Treat Smart City Tech like Sewers, or Better
Treat Smart City Tech like Sewers, or Better
Emerging technologies can foster an inclusive COVID-19 recovery
Emerging technologies can foster an inclusive COVID-19 recovery
Shopping with delivery robots arrives in cities
Shopping with delivery robots arrives in cities
Technology for smart cities: the pillars of urban planning of the future
Technology for smart cities: the pillars of urban planning of the future
Making Data Center Smart: How Artificial Intelligence Helps?
Making Data Center Smart: How Artificial Intelligence Helps?
Experts Say the ‘New Normal’ in 2025 Will Be Far More Tech-Driven, Presenting More Big Challenges
Experts Say the ‘New Normal’ in 2025 Will Be Far More Tech-Driven, Presenting More Big Challenges
Prof Shafi Ahmed: ‘Technology will completely transform healthcare’
Prof Shafi Ahmed: ‘Technology will completely transform healthcare’
Does the use of Big Data cause privacy concerns?
Does the use of Big Data cause privacy concerns?
Eye tracking technology: what is it and how will we see it in our cities
Eye tracking technology: what is it and how will we see it in our cities
Five top tips for businesses in 2021 from industry experts
Five top tips for businesses in 2021 from industry experts
Brief history of artificial intelligence
Brief history of artificial intelligence
China’s country-as-platform strategy for global influence
China’s country-as-platform strategy for global influence
As Robots Fill the Workplace, They Must Learn to Get Along
As Robots Fill the Workplace, They Must Learn to Get Along
Top 7 IoT Smart City Trends to Look Out In 2021
Top 7 IoT Smart City Trends to Look Out In 2021
“Liquid” machine-learning system adapts to changing conditions
“Liquid” machine-learning system adapts to changing conditions
Can Artificial Intelligence Replicate the Mystery of Human Conversation?
Can Artificial Intelligence Replicate the Mystery of Human Conversation?
China to become world's largest IoT market in 2024: report
China to become world's largest IoT market in 2024: report
The skills Deloitte looks for when it acquires IT service providers
The skills Deloitte looks for when it acquires IT service providers
Who needs a teacher? Artificial intelligence designs lesson plans for itself
Who needs a teacher? Artificial intelligence designs lesson plans for itself
4 Impactful Technologies From the Gartner Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar for 2021
4 Impactful Technologies From the Gartner Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar for 2021
Are Videogames the Future of Remote Work?
Are Videogames the Future of Remote Work?
China to become world's largest IoT market in 2024, says report
China to become world's largest IoT market in 2024, says report
Let interoperability be the foundation of smart cities
Let interoperability be the foundation of smart cities
Four emerging technology trends in 2021
Four emerging technology trends in 2021
Top 10 innovative regions in China
Top 10 innovative regions in China
What does Integration of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics mean in Business?
What does Integration of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics mean in Business?
Robots, wristbands, and apps: startups that innovated their products for COVID-induced med tech
Robots, wristbands, and apps: startups that innovated their products for COVID-induced med tech
Top 5 IoT programming languages in 2021
Top 5 IoT programming languages in 2021
How the pandemic will shape the workplace trends of 2021
How the pandemic will shape the workplace trends of 2021
How exactly are smart cities built? From facial recognition and 5G networks to cheap sensors — these are the essential components
How exactly are smart cities built? From facial recognition and 5G networks to cheap sensors — these are the essential components
Cyberplanning: Securing the IoT ecosystem
Cyberplanning: Securing the IoT ecosystem
Stand ready for the big five technology convulsions reshaping markets
Stand ready for the big five technology convulsions reshaping markets
Recommended profiles for you
Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
MF
Martin Ferguson
Socitm
Director of Policy & Research
Catalina Maldonado
Catalina Maldonado
Barcelona Technology School
Head of Academics
BG
BETÜL GÖRGÜLÜ
KENTKART
INTERNATIONAL SALES PROCESS ENGINEER
Ireneu Dias
Ireneu Dias
INESC TEC
Coordinator of Applied Photonics Center
SR
Shy Rosenzweig
Alfei Menashe Municipality
Mayor of Alfei Menashe
Atif Hasan
Atif Hasan
Patkais Private Limited
Managing Director
EG
Estephani González
FBM
D
Oliver Niedung
Oliver Niedung
MICROSOFT
Sr. IoT Specialist
Tatjana Samsonowa
Tatjana Samsonowa
IPERF
Chairman of International Institute for Research Performance and Innovation Management e.V. (IPERF)
Daniel Fletcher
Daniel Fletcher
Primavera Sound
Chief Innovation Officer
Rafael  Moreno
Rafael Moreno
Eurotronix, S.A.
Product Manager IoT Communications
MP
Miguel Paiva Couceiro
Fidelidade
Project Manager for Smart District in Lisbon/Portugal
GO
Garrett Owens
Future Street
cfo
PJ
Pradyumn Jain
SmartUp
Analyst
MJ
MELINDA JIMÉNEZ
CSI
MANAGER
MB
MARIA GRACIELA BOROZUKI
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC INSTITUTE
ACADEMIC SECRETARY
MD
Mayur Domadiya
NA
founder
Martin McGreal
Martin McGreal
Numina
Chief Innovation Officer
JR
Jose Raul Rueda Sanchez
Municipalidad de Villa el Salvador
Especialista en Gestion Publica
ÅN
Åke Nygren Nygren
Stockholms stadsbibliotek
Project leader and Content Producer

Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$