4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

2 minute read

February 20, 2024, 12:00 PM PST

By Mary Hammon


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Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock

“The convergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and urban planning holds significant promise for creating more intelligent, efficient, and sustainable cities,” Camilla Ghisleni. In an article for Arch Daily, she outlines four applications of urban planning, spurred by “a surge in development of applications, softerware, and other technological systems” tailored to support city design. 

1. Urban design and morphology

Ghisleni cites multiple projects and studies around the world that are using AI to analyze and create plans in a fraction of the time it would take human urban planners and with better results, including grid-based planning, rapid urban prototyping, and digital twin technology.

2. Resilience and climate adaptation

AI can also be used to enhance resilience against extreme weather events and climate change, Ghisleni reports, pointing to Google’s AI-powered tree-cover assessment tool and IBM’s AI tool that calculates the amount of carbon trees in specific areas can store, which can help when choosing species for carbon sequestration.

3. Infrastructure planning

Ghisleni highlights a software called MAIIA (Automated Mapping of Informal Settlements with Artificial Intelligence) that was created by Columbia’s National Planning Department and made available as part of a catalog of open-source tools for urban planning, with the goal of facilitating “automated detection and mapping of informal settlements in various locations, providing efficient and accessible solutions to housing challenges.”

4. Community engagement

Finally, Ghisleni covers applications including virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) to encourage a more participatory planning process, as well as real-time monitoring and analysis of user-generated data for things like traffic management and route safety alerts for women and pedestrians.

Thursday, February 8, 2024 in ArchDaily

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