Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, United States photo by — @henning

Applied AI and the City

Artificial intelligence to help manage cities

Alex Moltzau
2 min readMay 3, 2020


Cities are large – too large sometimes to even comprehend. How many billions litres of water is flowing to large cities like Mumbai; how many citizens fill the streets of Shanghai and the lights of New York as you look up a skyscraper.

Imagining for one second to comprehend some of this informations seems almost impossible – then again if your work is to manage this situation wanting to understand seems crucial.

Part of wanting to understand is understanding the limitations of the inquiry, such is the case with artificial intelligence (AI) as well.

AI in cities will not solve our problems, yet it is vital to look at how these new technologies can be used to assist in the pragmatic management of large or small population in their lived environments.

Areas effected include, but are not limited to.

  • Public transportation.
  • Air quality monitoring.
  • Safer streets.
  • Traffic system management.
  • Water leakage.
  • Garbage collection.
  • Monitoring.

The transport system in cities is one vital aspect that is being influenced.

Both in understanding patterns, and optimising schedules.

Sensors capable of capturing air samples can help inform policy and can help to design the city in more beneficial ways for citizens.

Applications that receive information can help planners design a city. Certain applications also allow for reporting of danger more easily.

Artificial intelligence is being used in recognition of different transport models.

Yet there is a plethora of solutions emerging for accident identification.

Understanding how people and vehicles moves can improve the flow of traffic in the city.

Sound sensors can capture flow frequencies in pipes.

What if you could identify and sort different kind of trash?

Well collection, sorting and distribution can be helped through optimising selective collection.

Cameras can be used both in dumps and in the recycling process.

Counting of numbers of people at certain events may be particularly important in a pandemic to avoid conglomerations of too many people.

The various solutions can of course be used in a productive manner to help monitor cities, however it is equally as important that misuse is mapped out and that checks and balances are put in place to ensure good usage.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 335. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days. My focus for day 300–400 is about AI, hardware and the climate crisis.



Alex Moltzau

AI Policy, Governance, Ethics and International Partnerships at All views are my own.