City Brain: what happens when we connect a city’s traffic lights to Alibaba
My list

Author | Marcos Martínez

In 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 City Brain, Hangzhou’s 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.

Now, 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.

The 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
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
3 ways the pandemic is transforming tech spending
3 ways the pandemic is transforming tech spending
8 Smart Cities to Watch in 2020
8 Smart Cities to Watch in 2020
Microsoft: Smart Places and Infrastructure with IoT, AI, and Digital Twins
Microsoft: Smart Places and Infrastructure with IoT, AI, and Digital Twins
Digital transformation is already revolutionising public healthcare as provided by regions
Digital transformation is already revolutionising public healthcare as provided by regions
Robots, AI, and automation: the 4th industrial revolution is here
Robots, AI, and automation: the 4th industrial revolution is here
Smart cities are seeking their own operating system
Smart cities are seeking their own operating system
Three science fiction cities that predicted the future
Three science fiction cities that predicted the future
Brussels will digitise the management of its historic buildings in the interests of sustainability
Brussels will digitise the management of its historic buildings in the interests of sustainability
D2D3: AllInCarto
D2D3: AllInCarto
dots.: Future Intelligent Transportation Systems
dots.: Future Intelligent Transportation Systems
Positium: Public transport planning with Mobile Positioning Data
Positium: Public transport planning with Mobile Positioning Data
NaviLens - the next generation QR code for a smart and inclusive mobility
NaviLens - the next generation QR code for a smart and inclusive mobility
Meep: An app that integrate all available modes of transport
Meep: An app that integrate all available modes of transport
Eurecat: NasApp
Eurecat: NasApp
DigaliX Solutions: Interactive Tourism App
DigaliX Solutions: Interactive Tourism App
Artificial Intelligence and Big Data in the fight against COVID-19
Artificial Intelligence and Big Data in the fight against COVID-19
5G Smart Factory: Supporting the transformation of the manufacturing industry
5G Smart Factory: Supporting the transformation of the manufacturing industry
Urban Vision Engagement Project: Harnessing the power of Virtual Reality
Urban Vision Engagement Project: Harnessing the power of Virtual Reality
Recommended profiles for you
Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
Karan Patil
Karan Patil
Smartefi Systems
Director & CEO
Berenice Aguirre
Berenice Aguirre
Yopublico
Partner
Adriana Corwna
Adriana Corwna
Cartagena Tourism Office
Marketing and Comunications Director
JV
JAIME VASQUEZ
KPMG
Director - Alliances
Jan Bradley Jan
Jan Bradley Jan
City of Calgary
Director
Paras Rathour
Paras Rathour
Paras Business center
Compani is working hard
Fiorella Coello
Fiorella Coello
Tech Consulting
Business Strategy & High Tech Advisor
RE
Rodrigo Espírito Santo
Between projects
Between projects. Former Smart City Business Development for EMEA at Deloitte
SN
Sipho Nzuza
Ethekwini Municipality
City Manager
MP
Mohammad Pajouhideh
ICT Organization Municipality
Ceo
AM
Aravind M
Global Association of Indian Medical Students
State President of Tamilnadu, Global Association of Indian Medical Students
JC
Juan Jesus Castizo Garcia
APROTEL
.
IJ
Iván Jiménez
All Latam Tech
Solutions Archítect
CC
Carlos Alberto Cadenas Torres
Home
Gerente
KQ
Kerry Quinn
Invest Northern Ireland
International Trade Advisor, Technology & Services
FI
Fatawi Izzul Fatawi
Satria Digital
Developer
BF
Björn Fuchs
Itron GmbH
IoT & Smart City Solution Sales Lead Germany
KS
Kevin Salazar
Globant
Android Developer
Silvestre Eduardo Rocha Ribeiro Junior
Silvestre Eduardo Rocha Ribeiro Junior
Parque Tecnológico de Sorocaba
I\'m a President
Ricard Torres Puighermanal
Ricard Torres Puighermanal
Epson Iberica
Account Manager Corporate Companies

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