This study investigates the impact of AI on cohesion within and between urban areas. It explores the state of available knowledge regarding the role of AI within urban development, its potential advantages and risks, and the foreseeable implications for socio-economic and territorial cohesion.
CSIL researchers found that AI in an urban context can provide numerous solutions in different areas, such as improved urban management, the release of new or improved services for citizens, and new economic opportunities. Many of these areas are critical for city management and urban development and include local government, health, safety, mobility and energy.
The study also considers risks associated with the application of AI in urban development, which, to varying extent, can jeopardise socio-economic and territorial cohesion. It suggests that the positive effects of the smart-city paradigm, as powered by AI, are yet to materialise on a large scale.
Authors warn that to mitigate risks and seize the potential of AI, urban authorities must ensure that a set of conditions are fulfilled, ranging from data access, interoperability and legal frameworks to more intangible elements, including an appropriate governance structure, administrative capacity and relevant skills. They also highlight that policies adopted by the European Union (EU) can make a decisive contribution towards fulfilling these conditions but that they should integrate the territorial dimension of AI more explicitly. Digital Innovation Hubs and Smart Specialisation Strategies are presented as two promising initiatives, supporting local authorities in rolling out effective AI / smart-city strategies.
The study presents a set of specific recommendations, and in general, argues in favour of a place-based approach to AI in an urban context, focusing on the needs of citizens and addressing the diversity of cases and contexts.