Cleveland wants to use AI to fight illegal dumping

Cleveland, Ohio – The City of Cleveland will work with Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University on a solution to AI-assisted illegal dumping.

The final product would ideally provide new city-owned technology that Cleveland could use to identify people responsible for dumping, according to Roy Fernando, Mayor Justin Bibb’s chief innovation and technology officer, who has promised to use the technology to improve city services.

The Cleveland City Council on Monday approved legislation that would allow students and faculty, who are part of the two universities’ collaborative Internet of Things, to begin work. It was one of two initiatives approved this week that aims to bring “smart” technology into city devices and operations.

Students and staff will use smart cameras to develop and test an artificial intelligence model designed to identify illegal dumping. Fernando said such work would be conducted in a controlled environment, likely on a university campus, “where students walk into the field of view of the screen” and leave something behind.

Once he modified and perfected the form, Fernando said, he would be able to identify that person as having illegally dumped the item on the floor.

Next, the city intends to deploy smart cameras equipped with the new technology on two lanes known to dump hot spots. Fernando said one would be deployed on the eastern side of the city and the other on the western side.

Once someone unloads an item and the AI ​​model detects it, it will automatically alert the authorities, so they can investigate and potentially fall behind.

If the test projects are successful, then the technology can be scaled up for use elsewhere in Cleveland. The technology could also serve as a guide, of sorts, for creating different smart city solutions to other problems, Fernando said.

Ward 3 Council member Kerry McCormack, who has long advocated for Cleveland to start using smart city technology, praised the idea during a committee hearing Monday. He identified illegal dumping as one of the city’s biggest problems.

Ward 14 Councilwoman Jasmine Santana, who said illegal waste disposal is a major concern in the alleys in her neighborhood, was a bit skeptical. “we [already] Learn about illegal dumping hotspots. Santana said. “[The issue is] Capabilities within the Unlawful Dumping and Cameras Action Team.”

The second smart city initiative approved by the council on Monday was a pro bono partnership with Honeywell, a manufacturing and technology company, to develop a “smart city roadmap” that could be used to guide Cleveland’s future use of technology in delivering city services.

Cleveland was one of five cities selected for the partnership by the Accelerator for America, an alliance of U.S. mayors that seeks and shares innovative solutions to problems that commonly confront municipalities.

Technological developments identified by Honeywell can be associated with any number of city services or needs. Examples cited by Fernando and McCormack include uses for transportation, sustainability, smart buildings, smart sensors embedded in roads or other infrastructure, meter reading for utilities, making traffic lights more efficient, monitoring air quality or collecting waste.

Over the course of two or three months, Honeywell will be interviewing leaders of several city departments about the challenges they routinely face. Fernando said Honeywell will then provide findings on how to address these challenges using smart technology.

Bibb intends to use these findings and recommendations to apply for federal grants that will be used to pay for needed technology upgrades, he said.

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