As the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in governments evolves, researchers are looking to supercomputer modeling to assess how the technology can help predict smart city innovations and impact the future.
Internet of things (IoT) expert Matthew Bailey and Innovation Corridor CEO Eric Drummond have co-founded the Supercomputer Modeling and Artificial Intelligence Cluster for Smart Cities and Regions, which aims to help the private sector use the country's national research labs more efficiently than going through the traditional government procurement process.
The group, with support from smart city investment firm Venture Smarter, will use the supercomputers to trial solutions for some of the biggest issues facing cities, including the need to modernize the electric grid; water management; mobility; decarbonization and logistics.
The cluster comes out of the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC), backed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T).
It officially kicked off its efforts in late June in Washington, DC and encourages teams to work together and use technology to address pressing urban challenges.
"If we're going to really want to support high-impact, long-term, potentially game-changing technologies and innovative business models, it's going to take all of us working together across various parts of the private sector, municipalities, the federal government and consultancies working on these relatively difficult but potentially game-changing projects," Drummond told Smart Cities Dive.
The supercomputers will make use of the vast amounts of data available to train the AI systems and help them make better decisions. Those AI solutions will then be added to a repository that can then be licensed and deployed. Bailey told Smart Cities Dive that repository will be key in creating the "next generation of IT infrastructure."
The cluster will also look to expand its reach into the suburbs and rural areas that surround the cities it is running scenarios in. That is in keeping with a broad trend of looking beyond jurisdictional borders and solving problems on a regional basis, and makes sense given the budgetary and other pressures that local governments face.
"Most cities and communities don't have the population size or the business residency to justify some of these major expenses that enable these tier one cities to invest in technology and research and application and development," Venture Smarter CEO and co-founder Zack Huhn told Smart Cities Dive. "Not all these communities have a university. But many of these regions do, and when these communities work together they can pool their resources, pool their time, pool their learnings and they can get ahead quicker."
While the cluster primarily has a U.S. focus, Bailey said lessons learned and best practices can be applied to international cities, which share many of the same struggles with their American counterparts as they look to innovate. With countries like China and South Korea leading on deployment of AI technology, he said this could be a way to get the U.S. in front.
"This is a great opportunity for U.S. leadership in stepping ahead in these kinds of new AI architectures that we'll find in our cities and regions," Bailey said.