5 Intriguing Applications of Computer Vision in Smart Cities by@zacamos

5 Intriguing Applications of Computer Vision in Smart Cities

Due to significant progress in deep learning and the growing amount of data, modern computer vision (CV) is quite advanced. As smart cities continue to develop, CV plays a major role. Five current intriguing applications of CV in smart cities include its use in public transportation, construction, traffic control, law enforcement, and EMS. We can expect expanded use of CV in the future.
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Zac Amos

Zac is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he covers cybersecurity, AI and more.

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Computer vision (CV) is an evolving field in artificial intelligence (AI) expected to rival — perhaps even surpass — human visual abilities. Due to significant progress in deep learning and the growing amount of data, the modern CV is quite advanced and has a wide range of use cases.

Aside from numerous consumer and business applications, several CV use cases will play an integral role in developing smart cities. These cities must leverage the latest, most advanced technologies like the CV to promote economic growth, optimize city functions and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.

Learn more about the benefits of CV in smart cities and five fascinating CV applications for smart city development.

How CV Benefits Smart Cities

As its name suggests, a smart city is "smarter" than a traditional city.

The latest technologies power these intelligent urban areas, including software and hardware solutions, information and communication technologies (ICT), and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It’s like expanding the safety and convenience of a smart home into the streets.

Computer vision is another emerging technology expected to enter the smart city tech mix soon. City governments would recognize several benefits of adopting CV, including:

  • Automating time-consuming, repetitive, and monotonous tasks.
  • Minimizing human error.
  • Offering accurate results once they properly train the AI.
  • Providing greater visibility into city operations.
  • Enhancing productivity and efficiency.
  • Enabling predictive maintenance.
  • Streamlining information collection and analysis.

Because of these benefits, many players in the tech field are exploring computer vision. Some of the most well-known tech giants, like Intel Corporation, Alphabet, Inc. — the parent company of Google — and Meta Platforms, Inc. are working on CV products and services.

Aside from these organizations, a massive influx of billion-dollar CV startups are entering the scene, according to a 2021 Forbes article. For example, Ceres Imaging, Sentera, Hummingbird Technologies, and Prospera are promising agriculture tech companies. Grabango, Zippin, and AiFi are focused on delivering CV solutions for retail companies.

5 Fascinating CV Applications in Smart Cities

Below are five exciting computer vision applications that could help transform traditional, disconnected cities into futuristic smart cities.

1. Public Transportation

Bustling cities must have efficient public transportation systems for their citizens. As the world population continues to grow and people move to urban settings, the need for exceptional public transportation options becomes more apparent. It's vital to make it easy for people to commute to and from work — it can open up more employment and business creation opportunities, boosting the quality of life in the city.

CV can be a game-changer for public transportation combined with other AI systems and IoT devices. For example, it can support accident detection, improve rider safety and efficiency, achieve higher sustainability levels, and offer support for autonomous vehicles. Leaders must consider adopting and deploying computer vision if cities want to make their public transportation systems smarter.

2. Construction

It's no secret construction is one of the most dangerous industries operating in all areas, whether rural, suburban, or urban. Construction workers engage in hazardous activities that can cause injury or even death, such as rooftop falls, electrocutions, silica dust exposure or being struck by building materials or heavy machinery.

Construction firms could benefit from CV systems because their algorithms can continuously monitor small and large construction sites for compliance requirements. By using computer vision, they can detect if workers are wearing the proper personal protective equipment or violating any rules or regulations. This technology could be an invaluable tool for improving safety on smart city construction sites.

3. Traffic Control

A significant challenge traditional cities face is traffic management and control. As city populations increase, road congestion may worsen, more accidents could occur and travel times and air pollution levels rise. Smart cities can use CV to mitigate these traffic issues and support intelligent traffic management.

In August of 2022, Hayden AI — a leading AI and machine learning company — announced a new partnership with NVIDIA Metropolis. This partner program will help Hayden AI develop its CV platform for traffic control. Bus lane and bus stop enforcement, traffic violations, and digital twin modeling are some of the benefits smart cities can reap with the platform, which the partnership hopes to develop further.

4. Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies play an integral role in city management. As stated above, computer vision would be the city's eyes, which could improve law enforcement operations and help officers perform their duties. For example, agencies can use CV to achieve the enhanced image and video processing, improve accuracy and speed in criminal identification and use scene intelligence to gain more details about a particular area or person.

However, discussions regarding CV use in law enforcement have emerged. A CV system can be biased based on race, gender, and ethnicity, especially if the system's training data is biased. Some believe any AI used in predictive policing perpetuates systemic racism and causes more harm than good. Smart cities must decide if CV's pros outweigh the cons.

5. Emergency Medical Services and First Responders

Computer vision has numerous applications that could prove helpful for first responders. First responders like police units, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians must respond to emergencies as soon as possible to deliver life-saving assistance.

When the Surfside condominiums in Miami, Florida, collapsed in 2021, the search and response team used innovative technologies — including computer vision — in its rescue efforts. Sensing technology company Teledyne FLIR integrated CV in its autonomous robot design to help guide rescue operations and send real-time data to operators.

This is not an exhaustive list of potential CV applications in smart cities. Still, they provide a glimpse into what positive impacts CV can have on these connected cities of the future.

Expect Widespread Use of CV in Smart Cities

As computer vision evolves and becomes increasingly sophisticated, more applications will emerge. Smart cities can decide which applications will best suit their citizens' needs, make worthwhile CV investments and improve the quality of life for citizens and visitors. It will be interesting to see how smart cities worldwide leverage the power of computer vision to enhance city management operations.

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