To an average Dhaka resident, artificial intelligence (AI) may seem like a loaded term that conjures up images of a malicious Skynet system from the Terminator
movie franchise, however, the reality is not as ominous.
The fact is, we have been inherently using AI in our day-to-day lives for the last few years. The latest smartphone that we have in our pocket has lots of AI features but we barely know about it.
This sleepy presence of AI in our lives is going to change as soon as Dhaka starts using AI in different development sectors including smart city management, traffic monitoring, healthcare system and many more.
This seems unrealistic, given the current context of this city of 17 million, but experts believe that changing the sorry state of different service sectors is in fact the main underlying reason behind this planned adaptation of AI in the city.
A smarter solution to problems
There are very few companies in Bangladesh which have started working on developing AI based system and devices. eGeneration Ltd is one such company. Founded by Shamim Ahsan, former President of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), this company has been acting as a front-runner in introducing AI based systems in Dhaka.
Shamim Ahsan says, AI technologies can be put to use in different sectors. “At eGeneration, we are making a natural language processor (NLP) for Bangla that will integrate machine learning and AI.”
He said that this is just one of the preliminary works they have been conducting, based on AI. “The potential is endless. One of the largest areas for growth through artificial intelligence is smart city planning and smart infrastructure.”
“And cities like Dhaka, where large numbers of people live in a relatively small area, may hold the key in determining just how AI fits into these areas,” he said.
Shamim says smart cities are developed around its citizens’ needs. It allows the personalisation of experiences by giving meaningful insights, reliably and accurately. Public safety will also be improved as AI systems can predict and take action during emergencies.
“For instance, once a traffic accident is detected, the automated response management system takes over and communicates to the relevant authorities to take further action. Furthermore, AI systems that are built taking into consideration citizens’ perspectives and participation, cannot only help in making a more cohesive environment but also assist citizens in making smarter choices.”
Shamim however said, “This still seems like a dream to us but things like this are already being implemented in different cities in the West. We need to train people in new AI-related skills which is currently absent in our university curriculums.”
He said that eGeneration Ltd is consulting with Bangladeshi expatriates who are working in the Silicon Valley in other IT companies in North America to find cost effective and implementable AI based solutions in Dhaka.
Shehzad Noor Taus, a young Bangladeshi engineer from the Deep Learning division of world renowned NVIDIA has already been working with eGeneration Ltd to figure out the possible solutions designed with AI for Dhaka.
Road monitoring to curb accidents
Taus recently visited Dhaka and attended a seminar on the potential of AI in Dhaka, organised by eGeneration Ltd. He said, one of the practical and implementable AI based solutions for Dhaka as well as Bangladesh would be an AI based road monitoring system.
AI addresses the issue of safety in different manners. “Intelligent systems can address the issue through the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). There are solutions such as driver drowsiness detection, wherein the artificial intelligence tool detects whether the driver is falling asleep during driving, and will be able to alert the driver to make a stop to rest,” he said.
Taus further explains that drivers are notified about having to adjust their speed to desired levels to accommodate other road user needs. Another technology called Dynamic Speed Adaptation (DSA) technology offers remote speed advice to drivers about appropriate speed limits in particular stretches of roadway and trials of it have already been conducted in Sweden and the Netherlands.
“We have seen that cameras of every kind are already proliferating at an incredible rate to measure speeds over long distances. CCTV cameras may be installed at all traffic signals where they may read number plates of the vehicles and instantly compare them to a national database. This means that illegal vehicles can be intercepted to bring criminals to a speedy justice,” he said.
The young Bangladeshi engineer said there is a lot of interest in autonomous driving, with significant investments announced by companies and governments in this area. “But we are several years away from full autonomy and we need to invest now in our drivers to improve road safety.”
Fortunately, he said, much of the technology and learning from the area of autonomous driving can be transferred to improve the manned vehicle experience. High-definition cameras and onboard sensors are used to capture the environment around the driver and the vehicle.
This information is analysed in real time using powerful integrated processors and Deep Learning algorithms. Any unsafe event or incidents of concern that are detected and analysed are sent to the monitoring centre along with the relevant video and sensor information.
“This includes intelligent detection of events such as traffic light violation, lane departure, tailgating, sign violations and relative speeding alongside classic inertial detections of hard braking, hard acceleration and hard turns.”
He said that these solutions help the monitoring centre monitor the vehicles closely and react in real time reducing the possibility of risky driving.