Artificial intelligence in the public sphere

05. 05. 2023
Author: David Šebeček

Artificial intelligence in the public sphere

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic lately, and as technology grows, it is becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives. It is undoubtedly a very controversial topic at the moment, raising concerns on the one hand and new opportunities on the other.

Almost all of us are already using AI in the form of phone navigation or online shopping, but there are many possible uses for AI. AI is very promising and has the potential to help make everyday processes easier, even within the working world in the public sphere. However, along with the rapid development of AI, there are also concerns through the potential impacts on human society.  

These were the topics of the seminar Artificial Intelligence in the Public Sphere, which was organised by Brno.AI together with the JINAG agency and the South Moravian Region. The aim of the event was to familiarize representatives of cities and municipalities with the possibilities of using artificial intelligence in everyday work and to enable the establishment of cooperation with local startups that use artificial intelligence in their products and services. A total of 46 guests attended the seminar and learned about specific ways to use AI directly in their municipality.  

We were introduced by Jiri Materna, who is an expert in machine learning and is the founder of Machine Learning College. He has been working on the topic of artificial intelligence since 2007. Jiří Materna explained to the participants what exactly is artificial intelligence and what are the most important areas of application of machine learning. The question that interested the participants the most was whether artificial intelligence would put them out of a job. Some jobs will indeed disappear or be transformed, but thanks to AI, new positions will be created on the contrary. it is necessary to be open-minded and take advantage of new opportunities along with critical thinking. The big pitfall is in the education system, where there will have to be some changes. Artificial intelligence can calculate mathematical problems, write essays and term papers, so new ways of testing students' knowledge and skills and targeting a greater emphasis on understanding principles rather than memorisation are important. Threats of artificial intelligence in the form of easy creation of misinformation or hackability were also presented.   

The next session of the seminar belonged to companies from the #brnoregion, who presented concrete examples of the use of AI in the public sphere. Ondřej Kolařík presented a case study on the possibilities of using Adbian software to control the stability of trees in urban environments. Ondřej Kolařík is the founder of Arbo Technologies. The aim is to use data to ensure that trees in the vicinity of human dwellings can live to the highest possible age. But not at the expense of their safety. It takes 30-40 years for a tree to get to zero in terms of CO2, but the average age of trees in cities is 30 years, so trees need to stay healthy and safe for as long as possible. Through their products, they deepen and streamline the collection, processing and evaluation of data on non-forest greenery. The technologies help to determine tree biomechanics better based on real geometry and prevent unnecessary felling and pruning of large and monumental trees. The cost of tree analysis is many times lower using AI than standard dendrological screening.  

Next, Filip Unzeitig introduced his company Alviro s.r.o.. The company Alviro deals with the automation of routine office work with the help of artificial intelligence robot Alviro. The plan is not to use this robot to replace workers, but to allow workers to have an AI assistant for basic office work and to be able to do work that the robot cannot do by itself. For example, the AI assistant can help with invoicing, retrieve information from public registers, test a web portal for the public or check, record and enter data. The time savings will increase efficiency in the workplace.

Tomáš Šárocký from DataFromSky deals with artificial intelligence in the real world of transport. He mentioned that the cameras that are used today in everyday life are just ordinary cameras that just capture images. However, Tomáš Šárocký sees the camera system as a sixth traffic sense. In fact, cameras can easily be turned into a smart sensor of various kinds thanks to artificial intelligence. The cameras could be used to detect free parking spaces, average speed detection, congestion detection, cyclist counting or traffic violations. This data would help municipalities get a comprehensive view of the traffic situation and traffic patterns and help in further decision making. The tool should be used for long-term monitoring of situations in cities and towns.

Co-founder of Yedem s.r.o. Vojtěch Rujbr presented the Yedem Carpool system, usable for larger companies where people are coming together in one place, and by municipalities where people are starting from one place. The company is in the business of creating smart tools for efficient parking and commuting that help reduce the environmental burden of transportation. For many, it is more convenient to drive their car and drive alone, so incentives for carpooling are important, and these can include an allocated parking space, reporting of emissions saved, leaderboards, Cafeteria points or a prize competition.

Michal Procházka from VisionCraft presented an autonomous mobile sensor that can anonymously monitor traffic, cyclists and people. The sensor is mounted on the lighting poles, i.e. no infrastructure needs to be built. The data is processed in real time directly in the sensor and sent via the mobile network, so that events can be reacted to immediately. Municipalities and cities can monitor areas continuously or over a period of days or weeks before and after changes are made. Monitoring results are available on dashboards. It is a tool that can be used for short-term analysis and measurement in any municipality.

The last speaker was Dominik Janík, founder of CITYA s.r.o., a company that creates innovative solutions in public transport using routing, Al algorithm, virtual stops, optimization and cluster analysis, which brings flexible, comfortable and affordable mobility to the regions. The technologies used, from analysis, to modeling, simulation and real-time traffic optimization, can achieve up to 6x lower cost per kilometer than traditional public transport. The project can bring communities together to create a connected backbone and relieve bus traffic while saving money. This will completely change the logic of transport behaviour.

At the end, a discussion and networking session followed, where representatives of the municipalities had fun with the speakers and started the beginning of their possible future cooperation. We would like to thank all speakers and guests for their participation. We look forward to the next meeting!