As Cities Move from Smart to Adaptive, How Will this Affect Business?
September 13, 2019      
Paul McAlpine, MotionLoft

To paraphrase an old saying, the only constant is that things are always changing. The newest, latest, and sleekest technology is seemingly outdated just weeks after its release. The same can be said for the landscapes of cities globally.

The most recent technological revolution paved the way to some of the most useful and groundbreaking technologies to date, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and virtual reality. Despite the fact that cities have been able to leverage such advanced technologies and develop themselves into adaptive cities, businesses are now tasked with finding new ways to reach consumers and market themselves in the midst of so much change.

Computer Vision and Analytics

The development and implementation of computer vision and real-time analytics are helping businesses stay afloat in the midst of the migration from smart cities to adaptive cities. The combination of cloud-based dashboards and machine learning allows actionable data to be collected and understood regarding everything from vehicle concentration to pedestrian activity.

Analytics and AI have been important building blocks for smart cities, but will play an even more critical role for businesses to adapt. Specialized AI-supported sensors can monitor pedestrian, vehicle and bicycle traffic, and deliver extractable metrics. These insights help business owners understand real-time counts, behaviors and even help identify optimal business hours based on the flow of traffic. Businesses that leverage these advanced analytics are the biggest beneficiaries, as they can understand the behaviors of their target market. It’s worth noting, though, that the data collected does not include personal identifiable information (PII). Objects of interest are tracked and classified, but the images are deleted, not stored or transmitted.

Businesses can also create smart city applications from extracted video insights. This real-time digital platform is rooted in AI and machine learning, allowing the network to easily adapt with the city’s changes.

Robotics, Aerial Delivery & Urban Air Mobility

Autonomous robotics is changing companies, from operations to evolution and development. As cities continue to evolve, they will tap into robotics and data analytics to develop autonomous drones capable of collecting and interpreting visual data. For example, companies are already leveraging robotics and drones to drop packages on people’s front doorsteps.

Pesonal Air Vehicle Flying Above The Cityscape, Flying Car Of The Future 3d Concept, Futuristic Vehicle In The City, Air Car Concept - 3D RenderingStudies have found the average Los Angeles resident spends 10 days each year in traffic. Fret not, weary traveler. The move from smart cities to adaptive cities is paving the way for urban air mobility. Such travel introduces automated air transportation services without a pilot. While this is certainly an interesting alternative for pedestrians, this presents a unique challenge for businesses to make up for the shrinking number of on-foot shoppers.

The combination of aerial deliveries and urban air mobility are not only changing the way pedestrians travel through cities and reduce congestion, but they also require businesses to account for the lost foot traffic. Pulling traditional metrics will no longer work for storefronts looking to compete in adaptive cities. Instead, businesses and marketers must rely on new, AI-powered technologies to extract foot traffic metrics and gauge digital marketing campaigns.

Self-driving Cars

The days of awkward conversations with Uber drivers may be numbered, as autonomous vehicles are rapidly approaching. In fact, there is some speculation that predicts driverless cars will be commercially available by 2025. With 40,000 traffic deaths in the U.S. this year, self-driving cars have the potential to reduce human error and distraction. This technology will require smart cities to adapt the most, demanding upgraded, high-bandwidth mobile networks to share data, as well as major infrastructural changes.

self-driving cars trolley problem articleThis, again, is another major technological advancement that could have major implications across the business world. First of all, autonomous cars further take pedestrians off the sidewalks. This only strengthens the need for businesses to take advantage of advanced metrics. Additionally, self-driving cars will remove much of the need for stops, period. Traditional drivers make frequent stops to shop, stretch their legs, or simply get off the road. However, autonomous cars will have the destination set by the passenger, and is far less likely to make additional stops. This places an even higher premium on advanced metrics, to help business marketers understand when and where pedestrians are moving.

Smart cities can appear threatening to businesses. However, businesses that leverage smart city technology give themselves a huge advantage over their competition. Everyone from marketers and retailers to commercial real estate and restaurant owners stand to boost their businesses by digitally measuring pedestrian, vehicle and bicycle activity. The business marketers that take advantage of AI-supported metrics, will be the ones who not only survive, but flourish amid the transition to adaptive cities.

About the author: Paul McAlpine is the vice president of engineering at MotionLoft.