Smart Cities – Predicting The Future With Social Media

Erez Goldstein, Director of Global Marketing, Qognify // July 11, 2017
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A recent blog post I read by Eyal Feder, Chief Executive Officer at ZenCity, entitled, “How AI and Social Media Can Help Build Citizen-Centric Cities”, is not only an interesting read, it provides us a glimpse into how our urban areas will function in the not-so-distant future. In his post, Feder discusses how the real-time nature of social media, along with artificial intelligence can and is impacting and influencing just about everything, including how our cities function and are managed.

The thrust of Feder’s point is that as society moves towards almost fully urban environments, city management will need to be data-driven, or some version of a “Smart City”. The Smart City concept is based on “the growing ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data, coupled with real-time connectivity, can improve day-to-day life in cities through data-driven management.”

The most basic example of this is if a citizen livestreamed from their phone a traffic incident, a burst water main, or a criminal act in progress to inform relevant responders. In the US, NG-9-1-1 (next generation 9-1-1) is now being implemented, enabling emergency call centers to take video, text and photos as evidence. Social media can provide real-time understanding of a situation, which in turns enables a better, faster response and resolution. That’s excellent, but it just deals with the here and now. How about making the reality better for next week, month and year? That’s where AI plays a big part.

safe city

You can now report a city hazard/ danger directly to the police

Using Social Media for Predictive Intelligence

In Feder’s post, he talks about mining citizens’ social media posts and other data feeds for insight into their needs and preferences in order to create a better functioning urban environment. Qognify’s Operational Intelligence Center (OIC) does something similar. The OIC is the AI layer on Situator, the PSIM/Situation Awareness & Management solution. The OIC’s powerful analytic engine monitors large volumes of data streams from both internal and external sources. It detects deviations in leading indicators, which are often precursors to incidents. When these deviations are analyzed and correlated with other data sources – including social media – you get predictive intelligence. This predictive intelligence allows the city to respond more effectively to either mitigate the effects of the impending events, such as a weather incident, or eliminate the threat all together if that’s an option.

It’s not just about individual events. In addition to the OIC ability to predict incidents, it is constantly analyzing the response and management of all incidents and general operations. That adds additional layers of intelligence and insights that the city can use to improve quality of life and how it plans for and manages security, safety and operations.

If you’ve seen the movie Minority Report, this might sound familiar. We’re not there yet, but the concept isn’t too far off. It’s the elimination or mitigation of risk from incidents and the improvement to the functionality and management of the city and its services where AI and social media can have a profound impact.

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