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AI and Data Ethics in Smart Cities
By Ana Chubinidze  |  Jun 29, 2021
AI and Data Ethics in Smart Cities
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The disruptive capabilities of smart city technologies have caused several debates and initiatives over the past couple of years surrounding its ethics, regulations, policy and governance. Ana Chubinidze investigates the monumental challenges to bring those operational applications into life and the ethical and governance frameworks involved.

BERLIN - By 2030, the urban population will increase by 1.5 billion people (UN 2018),「1」 while by 2050 68 percent of the world’s population is projected to live in cities. Significant urban growth trends pose great challenges to a city’s infrastructure, resources, healthcare and employment, and so finding solutions to ensure more sustainable cities is thus crucial.

Several technologies have been deemed highly promising in tackling the conundrum of more sustainable cities. These include fifth-generation wireless networks (5G), three-dimensional printing, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), along with Big Data. Of these, AI is deemed the most disruptive, not only in terms of technologies, but also society, politics, economics and human existence. This is because of its autonomous nature that allows it to operate in both physical and non-physical environments.

Smart city technologies are being actively implemented in Europe, supported by the European Commission, local authorities, and the private sector. And the disruptive capabilities of smart city technologies have sparked several debates and initiatives over the last couple of years surrounding its ethics, regulations, policy, and governance.

As promising as AI is, companies face monumental challenges in bringing operational applications to life. Furthermore, ethical and governance frameworks are underdeveloped, and research is still in its infancy. Case studies「2」 in four European cities - Amsterdam, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Hamburg - demonstrate that the quality and availability of data is the most challenging factor.  Additionally, a report「3」 on AI use in public services, produced by AI Watch under the European Commission that studied all 27 European Countries, the UK, Switzerland and Norway in 230 case studies found an “imbalance between the transformative potential” and the effective

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