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  • Writer's pictureElenah Mae Salen

AI Development

Updated: Nov 6, 2023


Already at the early stages of a development - site selection, feasibility studies, Ai is being used to scrape publicly available data sets merged with proprietary data to test potential opportunities and configurations rapidly. The competitive advantages to analyze multiple sites in multiple markets at warp speed providing exclusive insights shows a clear, immediate benefit in leveraging Ai.


Ai has the power to influence the shape of future cities, in a similar way that cars created suburbia, and elevators lead to skyscrapers.


In 2019 at a dinner in Helsinki, I sat next to one of the founders of Spacemaker Ai, (acquired by Autodesk for $240 Million in 2020) I suggested the possibility of using their technology at a city level to rapidly review development proposals. In this scenario, the Ai would align the proposed development against what is permitted.


Reportedly adding 10-20% to construction costs, the benefit of leveraging Ai to streamline development approval is clear.

(Ai imaged of a 'future city' generated by Midjourney) ChatGPT’s disruptive force on education, marketing, search engines, and more - is challenging such industries to rethink the way they work. In designing new cities, there is also an immense of opportunity for more automation and optimization of operations through Ai - but - to glean the benefits, it needs to be designed strategically and holistically. In the work that I undertook with QIC as their Head of Technology Strategy to help them make their asset portfolio future-ready, there were some clear learnings:

  1. Start with strategy not technology - we may be dazzled by the rise of Ai but instead of focussing on the ‘what’ and ‘how’, consider first the ‘where’ you need to get to.

  2. Operations teams hold incredible intelligence - the people on the ground know the realities of implementation. Their insider knowledge cannot be replaced by Ai. What can (and should) be replaced are the obstacles to letting Ops teams be effective in their roles. Speak to them, they will tell you what they need.

  3. No data strategy, no Ai - cities have a plethora of data sources, and in cities such as NYC, not all important data will have been digitized. To mingle public, third party and your proprietary data from which an Ai can learn is a massive undertaking, especially with the added complexity if IoT data. If there is one project to prioritize above others, let it be this.

Ai is still an infant, and as such, is having teething problems. But like a child, you can nurture it and shape the way that it grows.

The transformative power of this technology is beyond anything that we have seen. If you’re looking to leverage the power of Ai, I encourage you to look to the learnings that I shared here as a way to start upon this journey in creating remarkable cities of the future.


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