AI Holds the Key to Resilient Cities by Justina Nixon-Centille

Cities will play a key role in how the world deals with climate change, and if there's one factor that can provide policymakers with much-needed support, it's artificial intelligence. But access to technology and the skills needed to use it effectively remain major barriers to implementation.

New York – some cities 4.4 billion People who call it home are at risk of catastrophic climate-driven events. Rising sea levels and flooding threaten coastal megacities like New York City and Jakarta, and extreme heat waves affect cities across South Asia and the Middle East every year. planned become frequent and severe.

As our built environments and infrastructure are tested by unpredictable weather and changing populations, many urban communities face heightened climate-related health and economic risks. Risks such as air pollution and natural disasters can be particularly acute in developing countries, where they risk pushing more people into poverty.

At the same time, cities contribute disproportionately to the broader challenges we face today. Cities are already calculated 70% Global carbon dioxide emissions and 78% Energy consumption and these figures are likely to grow in an urbanizing world. According to UN-Habitat, the share of people living in urban areas is expected to increase 68% by 2050.

It is clear that cities will play an important role in how the world deals with climate change. One factor that can provide much-needed support to cities and one that opens up opportunities to build greater resilience is artificial intelligence. When developed and used responsibly and ethically, AI can accelerate urban climate solutions, enable science-based and sustainable development, and deliver innovation at an unprecedented pace, allowing the most vulnerable communities to be put first.

But the first step is to improve our understanding of the many potential uses of AI as a tool for resilient cities. For example, the challenge of dealing with vast amounts of data is a major obstacle to accurately modeling future climate scenarios and making informed planning decisions. Fortunately, through the power of AI, foundational models and geospatial analysis can help visualize our cities in a whole new way.

Consider metropolitan areas facing severe and changing weather patterns. With real-time and historical climate data and AI-powered forecasting capabilities, governments can introduce new tools for disaster response and preparedness. Everyone, from ordinary citizens to those tasked with protecting and maintaining critical infrastructure, can be better informed and prepared.

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AI also has the potential to help make city operations more sustainable at every level, thereby reducing cities' excessive emissions and environmental impact. Intelligent software applications can integrate AI to analyze buildings' energy use, water consumption and waste management, providing insights that allow communities and organizations to make more responsible decisions about sustainability.

Also, with the addition of connected devices to enable deep data collection, security measures such as urban infrastructure maintenance will be more effective and efficient than ever before. Think of all the bridges and roads threatened by unprecedented weather events. When combined with AI, the uses of data go beyond basic monitoring and reporting.

The urban applications of AI don't stop there. The Technology It has the potential to improve public transport and transport planning to achieve more sustainable urban transport. This will help identify the best places to expand much-needed green space while protecting urban biodiversity and natural resources.

There are also increasing opportunities for governments, public service providers, and nonprofit organizations to access and explore AI tools, such as requests for proposals and pro bono programs. Similar to that offered by IBM. However, the latest Research 69% of cities are already exploring or testing applications of formative AI, while only 2% are implementing it. As IBM's Chief Impact Officer, I know that access to technology and the skills needed to use it effectively can be a major barrier to implementation. The need for greater access becomes more urgent when considering the unequal distribution of climate-driven threats. Within our cities, issues like air pollution and lack of access to clean energy disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable residents. These are the communities that stand to gain the most from AI.

We all have a responsibility to support people vulnerable to AI solutions. That means providing equitable access to climate tools, supporting AI and related capabilities, and developing programs designed to respond to the specific needs of historically marginalized urban populations. Development, in particular, can play a key role in accelerating the adoption of climate-mitigation and adaptation tools by vulnerable communities. The private sector can play its part by forming partnerships with public institutions and working closely with organizations already involved in supporting vulnerable communities.

By embracing AI and applying it to the fight against climate change, we can help make our cities safer, more adaptable and more sustainable. The technology is here to give people the tools to anticipate, address, and recover from climate-driven events. But it's up to all of us – communities, governments and companies – to make the best use of it.

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