Potential of AI in smart cities - interview with Harri Kaukovalta

In this interview, our Business Development Executive Harri Kaukovalta shares his thoughts on the potential of AI and smart cities. Harri will host a webinar on the same topic this week (sign up). Harri has 20+ years of experience in digital technology and energy sectors in global business environments. He has a proven track-record of working with digitalization, strategy and business transformation projects in the energy markets, as well as in industrial and retail sectors.

What are some of the key drivers of developing AI-driven solutions in cities these days?

Cities are growing as more and more people move to urban areas. This requires advanced planning of cities, but also optimizing various operations in order to truly achieve a sustainable way of living while creating an environment where we feel comfortable to live in. 

People are also used to the level of personalized service they get through various services and applications.  It makes us expect similar predictive and smart services in all the other realms of our lives too, including societies and cities. 

You have a strong background in the energy industry. What are some core use cases that you have seen happen in the past couple of years?

It’s obvious that the energy industry is going through a massive change as new energy solutions and sources have become competitive with the traditional ones. In addition, new players have been entering the market.

One area facing change is heating of households, where fex heat pumps have taken a share of the market. However, we can see that especially district heating networks in big cities can be more sustainable, and also maintain its competitiveness through adapting new advanced technologies to operate the system in a smart and predictive way.

This is a starting point also for utilising heat networks as a city wide smart energy storage. These would connect different kinds of waste heat sources and maximize renewable energy production by the help of district heating networks. This leads to the sector integration of electricity, heat and gas sectors and energy system optimization where AI plays a vital role.

Name of few concrete examples of how AI has been helping in creating smarter solutions for cities.

They are many, just to mention a few where we in Silo AI have been working lately.

  • HSY, where we developed a very cost-efficient predictive AI solution to identify possible blockages of the waste water network
  • Awake.AI (maritime), we cooperate with Awake AI to develop a logistics prediction module, which predicts the schedules of sea and land-based logistics based on multiple data sources to optimize the overall logistics flow through the port. The added value we have been able to create are faster logistics flow through the port, improved resource planning at port and accurate port services billing. The solution will have a major impact eg to improve fuel efficiency of different operators in the value chain.
  • Helen, we developed in close collaboration with the customer AI model for predicting energy consumption levels in the district heating network. This is very important and we will hear more in our upcoming webinar about the solution and how to make district heating even more sustainable and competitive.

What have we learned from working with various cases in a smart city context?

Very often our customers are not aware of the possibilities and benefits we are able to create with AI, but almost always the customers have wanted to continue after the first small start. We can harness a lot of data and pick up the insights which are meaningful, allowing machines further to learn more from those anomalies, but also humans - we keep humans in the loop. 

AI helps to make sense of a huge amount of data, that is constantly being created more and more. Both people and the machines we use need to learn and improve through learning from this data.

What is needed for smart cities to become a reality, or are they already? 

We have technology and solutions that help us build smart cities, and deliver the benefits for sustainable and climate friendly urban areas.

However, there are many parties having an important role to deliver this and not any of them can do this alone. We need collaboration and cooperation in various levels but it is crucial that there are parties who take the first step and start the development. 

There are also forerunners, and it is great to see that in Helsinki there are now many players who have started the journey towards building a truly smart city.

Join our Smart city webinar this week’s Thursday on September 3rd together with Helen & Bentley.

For more information about the webinar & out speaker line up, visit the webinar page and sign up.

Pauliina Alanen
Former Head of Brand
Silo AI
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Pauliina Alanen

Former Head of Brand

Silo AI

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