Six European cities join project to use AI in move towards carbon neutrality

Posted: 23 January 2020 |

The six cities are part of a project named AI4Cities which looks to artificial intelligence (AI) as a solution for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

AI in 2020

Helsinki, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris Region, Stavanger and Tallinn have been announced as part of AI4Cities, a three-year EU-funded project bringing together leading European cities looking for artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and meet their climate commitments.

Through AI4Cities, these cities and regions will go through a Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) process, an innovation procurement tool that enables the public sector to steer the development of new solutions directly towards its needs. First, the buying authorities will define the needs and requirements for solutions in the energy and the mobility fields that they would like to see developed in order to move towards carbon neutrality. Then, they will challenge startups, SMEs, bigger companies and other relevant stakeholders to design innovative solutions applying the use of AI and related enabling technologies, such as 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and big data applications.

“Cities and regions have a lot to say and do when it comes to climate action. We are very well placed to support our national governments in achieving the climate goals. AI4Cities shows our leadership and our willingness to use the power of pre-commercial procurement to boost innovation, artificial intelligence and sustainability in Europe,” said Kaisa Sibelius, Coordinator of the AI4Cities project and Project Manager at Forum Virium Helsinki.

AI4Cities is divided into five main phases: one preparatory phase, three standard PCP phases and one final impact assessment and follow up phase. During the preparation phase, the procuring cities will organise a series of activities – roundtables, workshops, and matchmaking events, amongst others – aimed at ensuring that open market consultation is an ambitious co-creation exercise. The PCP process will consist of a solution design phase, a prototype phase and a prototype testing phase.

AI4Cities will reach the supply side, selecting and funding a minimum of 40 contractors (20 for the energy challenge and 20 for the mobility challenge) who, during Phase one, will present their reports with a concept design, results of their feasibility studies and conclusions. Then, a minimum of 20 contractors (10 for each of the two challenges) will be invited to develop their prototypes in Phase two. A minimum of six contractors will then make it into Phase three where a series of larger scale pilots will be undertaken.

To maximise the potential impact of the AI project, a group of cities will be recruited to follow the PCP process and support the uptake of the outcomes. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability will be responsible for this, as well as for developing some procurement guidelines. The final stage will then focus on promoting PCP results for interested parties.

“AI4Cities is a living example how sustainability and innovation go hand in hand, providing practical answers to the challenges ahead. Open-source solutions to drive climate change mitigation using the tangible tool of public procurement is timely and ICLEI welcomes the leadership taken by European cities. With ICLEI’s Procura+ Network, we stand ready to apply pre-commercial public procurement in the field of sustainable energy and transport,” said Philipp Tepper, Coordinator, Sustainable Economy and Procurement, ICLEI.