The Federal government needs to invest in more AI research, development, and deployment (RD&D) to help develop smart cities and aid strained state and local budgets, according to a recent report.

The report, from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), said city governments will ultimately take the lead in leveraging AI in smart cities, but the Federal government needs to fund RD&D and coordinate guidance at a national level.

“While the Federal government has undertaken an array of activities to support the development of smart cities, these efforts have mostly been uncoordinated, and the government has had no strategic vision for AI research, development, and deployment (RD&D) of smart city technologies,” the report said. “Smart cities offer an important opportunity to address both infrastructure needs and strained state and local budgets at the same time.”

Smart cities use sensors, data, and analytics to address citywide issues – usually built around the Internet of Things (IoT). Some examples of AI applications smart cities can use to save energy include intelligent transportation systems, smart grid technologies, smart buildings, and city operations and infrastructure maintenance.

However, cities are often not equipped to support RD&D of AI technologies, but national governments are.

“Overcoming the barriers to and scaling AI adoption at a city level will require policymakers to be able to identify a city’s unique needs, develop next steps for advancing its AI capabilities, and deploying AI solutions,” the report said. “To scale AI adoption at a national level, policymakers will also need to be able to evaluate variations in AI adoption across cities.”

The report offered 19 different recommendations for both Federal and city governments, which included increased funding for research and development of AI, a competitive smart cities program, the establishment of a smart city energy data pool, pilots for smart technology programs, and inclusion of AI in city government’s COVID-19 recovery and climate plans.

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