City Services Get Smarter With AI

The CityDash platform provides analytics and data intelligence for cities for economic development, urban planning, mobility, transportation, public safety, and more. The technology helps municipal workers and regular citizens make more sense of life and work in multiple cities around the globe, including in one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s smart cities, San Leandro.  

 

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Image credit: Citydata.ai/San Leandro, CA

It's not every city government that can successfully innovate with artificial intelligence and cloud technology. It's a challenge for some municipalities, not to mention many enterprises. But the City of San Leandro in northern California, working with CityData.ai, is using a unified data analytics dashboard, CityDash, to serve up visualized data about neighborhoods, businesses, and everyday citizens.

The results, in a nutshell, include better decision-making, more prescient anticipation of trends and community needs, and cost savings through greater use of automation.

The City of San Leandro, population 90,000, is a forward-thinking user of emerging technologies. In addition to this AI dashboard, the city recently undertook an LED streetlight retrofit project, using an Internet of Things-connected smart streetlight control system. The city is looking at other IoT use cases, according to CTO Tony Batalla.

“San Leandro is our strategic partner for technology innovation that can make cities smarter, safer and more resilient,” says Apurva Kumar, CEO of CityData. He said the data and AI cloud platform for San Leandro consists of three components:

  • CityChat, a mobile chatbot app for sharing timely information and geofenced neighborhood alerts about 311 records; crime incidents; building permits; parks and recreation events; community surveys with citizens. The app recently won the Center for DIgital Government’s Future Ready Award, which recognizes jurisdictions that are laying the foundation for the disruptive and converging forces shaping an uncertain future. 
  • CityGraph, a cloud-based knowledge graph with built-in machine learning capabilities for analyzing the city's open datasets in combination with proprietary data streams from systems for IoT, mobility, and weather. 
  • CityDash, an online dashboard and map-based visualization stack for administrators, decision makers, as well as citizens to access data insights and patterns for their city. 

There's a public-facing version of CityDash for citizens' inquiries. The private version is for authorized city employees, administrators, and department heads. While the public version provides more general information, the City of San Leandro's internal dashboard performs data analysis, insights, APIs, and map-based visualizations for four different departments working from seven datasets, according to CityData.ai.

Dashboard showing useful city data

Image credit: Citydata.ai/San Leandro, CA

Cross-department Collaboration

The platform applies machine learning and AI techniques to infer the real-world impact of community trends and changes on San Leandro's citizens, and is the first project of its kind to combine datasets across departments and agencies at the city. That's a huge win for any organization that needs more congruency in how its data is generated, stored, and analyzed. Data congruency fosters richer, cross-department collaboration using public, proprietary, and private datasets.

In the meantime, CityDash serves as a "chief data officer in the cloud for cities on a budget," according to CityData.ai. The platform ingests daily data from the city, combines the municipal data with proprietary and private datasets, analyzes it, and correlates the impact to citizens.

Digging more deeply, CityData.ai explains that San Leandro's platform consolidates analytics and machine learning into a single tool. That obviates the need to buy four different tools (not to mention the associated training and ongoing management). That in turn has translated into cost savings and increased productivity, especially with the budget cuts related to COVID-19.

Cloud-based Data and Computations

San Leandro's platform is completely cloud based, which helps simplify storage, access, and analysis of relevant datasets remotely. The city also gets to leverage the advanced computational performance of the cloud's powerful servers.

CityData.ai claims that its platform is affordably priced for most IT departments. CityDash is priced at $11,000 annually for cities with populations of up to 125,000.

The public facing portion of CityDash supports a number of different services, including San Leandro's 311 service. Essentially a call center that offers city- and government-related information to citizens, local businesses, and visitors, 311 connects callers to non-emergency city services. The data it generates and provides helps the city understand how and where to devote its resources, as well as more insight into community trends and needs. For example, the dashboard can answer questions such as, “How many people were impacted by illegal dumping incidents in the past four months?”

Other San Leandro services hosted on the CityDash platform include:

  • CityPermits, which analyzes new and historical building, engineering, and anonymized construction permits to evaluate impact on citizens and their communities, and to identify development trends in the 15 square-mile city.
  • City911 takes daily and historical services calls (anonymized) to police and evaluates their impact. For example, the dashboard can examine which areas generate the most calls about suspicious persons, or which days of the week or times of the day, among other parameters and queries.
  • CityParks takes anonymized data from parks and recreation centers to analyze and evaluate the levels of participation and engagement by the local community in city-run programs.
  • CityChat, a service being tested by San Leandro, is a geofenced application that allows the city to wirelessly push information about activities or points of interest to citizens and visitors in targeted, granular areas. 

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