COVID19 has revealed how broken our city is. It means we need to reinvent our city to cater for the needs of everyone.
Experts said that 65% of the estimated 25 million Lagosians work in the informal sector.
It has been worsened by the outcome of COVID-19 with low-skilled workers having been heavily impacted as firms shift to remote works, shrunk office spaces with the likelihood of bloated slums and aggravated poverty.
Meanwhile, informal workers have lower incomes, regularly no savings, healthcare, or pensions that provide a basic social safety net; this demands urgency in overhauling our city to take on this herculean task of rejuvenation.
In view of this, the question is how can 21 st century technologies help us address these challenges?
The emergences of these paradigms: smart city and city-as-an-asset is transforming the way we think, build and manage cities locally and
All anchored on exponential technologies like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things.
Smart city government employs sensors to collect data to get insights and competently run cities.
Also, city-as-an-asset means sound asset management with the goal to reduce asset downtime and boost asset life expectancy to mention just a few.
This leads to the outcome of higher performance, happier asset users (Lagosians), lower management cost and better sustainability.
Whichever perspectives we share on city management, the larger goal is to help cities meet the growing needs of their populations.
We see cities as smartphones as they have similar ecosystemic demands, helping us see the possibilities of building an innovative city.
How do we solve city poverty?
Since we are challenged by weak infrastructure, lack of painstakingness to gathering data and lack of cooperation in sharing the data, technology is paving a way out.
By streaming satellite imagery, we can identify geographical regions of poverty more accurately by identifying dense concentration of light at night as affluent.
A combination of geospatial and economic data stewed together into AI/ML system can predict districts of poverty within 81%-99% accuracy.
This could open up new approaches and well-crafted systems in not just addressing our paucity of data but unravel innovative ways of caring for our vulnerable groups.
More so, this means a shift in the way we deliver education to vulnerable groups.
In my interactions with technologists and NGOs, innovative models for delivering learning are helping bridge educational gaps with digital learning playing a key role.
While digital platforms like Google Careers Certificates, Lambda School etc are disrupting the educational market, they open new frontiers for policy reconstruct, engagement and partnerships.
I have had an NGO asked for public school partnership to stream classes into our local schools despite a lack of computers and quality internet.
Consequently, the outcome of the above is the possibility of tailored learning with the likelihood of individualizing and optimisng teaching methods for our vulnerable groups and so bridge the inequality gap.
Working with IBM’s Simpler Voice which is powered by IBM Watson natural language could help us overcome illiteracy.
It uses text-to-speech services, helping our vulnerable group like low-literate adults and children recognize and comprehend information like verbalizing prescription medications.
Yet, we know that Lagos is not growing quickly and not as flexible as the population is growing.
With 123, 000 persons entering Lagos daily, she is faced with a tough challenge-the urgent need to apply technology to addressing modern urban policy and planning problems.
It is time for Lagos to launch an initiative I would call EkoLab: it is designed to bring together talent from academia, OPS and Lagos Government to reinvent how the city is run.
Our City guidelines and restrictions are antiquated. The shift should be a focus on using technology to gather data from around the city.
AIIoT will play a strategic lead. It should form the technological core of EkoLab
It is about wedding AI with the Internet of Things. Data is the energy of AI. IoT sensors that are littered across smart cities can deliver regular efficient information about sundry stuffs like traffic flow to flooding patterns thereby serving as a first-class feedstock for AI algorithms.
Across other climes, governments are employing connected devices to turn infrastructure like roads, street lights and traffic signals into assets that generate valuable data instead of necessary infrastructure that generates maintenance costs.
It is inevitable that applying AI to the IoT data seems an expected next step for advancing our public good.
We anticipate in the nearest future that Lagos State Government would implement a citywide grid of 500-1000 enterprise-caliber sensors that will enable it to harvest a array of data, including the movements of pedestrians and cars, temperature, pressure, light, vibration and ambient
sound intensity information.
We believe using this sensor data across a variety of potential AIIoT projects would unearth our city’s secreted stories.
It would help us improve safety at intersections and give us a better understanding of accidents and similar situations.
AIIoT infrastructure will help us grasp a great appreciation of the day-to-day activity on Lagos streets.
This is possible with using AI to analyze images collected by connected cameras, therefore teaching our urban planners about how vehicles interact with each other, the city’s infrastructure and pedestrians.
So, we will be able to better design intersections and streets, work out where to separate different traffic flows and tweak traffic light patterns to improve our collective safety.
Unfortunately, street floods have been perpetual challenge of Lagos.
We can employ sensors to collect images of our street and it will be able us to distinguish between dry and wet roads and stagnate water, and even tell how deep our flooded streets and corners are.
Excitedly, we can automate the process of collecting and applying data that is currently manual and often unreliable, and harness the automated learning to predict and proactively address flood conditions to improve the safety and security of Lagosians moving about our city streets.
We believe this can save billions for Lagos State Government by preventing costly damage to our strained city infrastructure.
In all, seeing Lagos MegaCity as a smartphone is an exciting paradigm.
It could open up Lagos to urban ecosystemic innovations and drastically cut waste and upgrade the living conditions of its
It could transform our city and unveil the kind of innovations we have seen in the financial and ecommerce space. It is tempting for city governments to take a command and control approach because it is assumed that could accomplish more.
The truth is that while there’s a cost to collaborative innovation like AlIoT projects, the fact is the outcomes are better for us all.
About the Author
Caesar Keluro works with Nanocentric Technologies.
Featured Image: pinterest
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