Adelaide is the smart city to watch

If you’re into artificial intelligence and you want to see where it’s taking us, Adelaide is the city to watch.

Adelaide is on the verge of a digital revolution, the significance of which is being largely missed by the rest of Australia – even many Adelaideans – but this is big, folks!

It’s about to become a place where all kinds of things, unimaginable a few years ago, will start to unfold.

It’s a place where people walking or riding alone at night will be able to order a drone (Uber-style) to shine a light on the path ahead and monitor their safe passage home, street lights will switch on only when they detect people, smart parking may soon be in the future, and traffic movements will be digitally controlled to avoid congestion in self-driving electric cars and buses.

Buildings will be equipped with weather monitors that will predict conditions and send signals to the air-conditioning system to control conditions inside, principally to areas where people are detected.

And tests will be conducted with people prepared to embed short-distance smart chips under their skin, so keys are no longer necessary, passwords are a thing of the past, and the smart devices around their wrists will tell them if they have health problems that need to be addressed. It will even make the necessary doctor’s appointment.

Adelaide has a population of about 1 million people adorned with all the best features to provide a buzzy, cosmopolitan lifestyle. It’s perfectly-sized and situated to begin testing and rolling out this next wave of smart-city initiatives.

It has entrepreneurial universities, a City Council, a State Government, and the nbn™ network, all installing the necessary and complementary infrastructure to make this one of the smartest most digitally-connected cities on the planet.

In the world of techy types, Adelaide is attracting the right kind of attention from smart start-ups and other digital visionaries. 

Enter Dr John Flackett

Some years ago, Adelaide attracted to its shores Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Dr John Flackett, a university lecturer (and very smart dude) from Southampton in the UK. He now runs the web software development company koolth.

John is an internationally-acclaimed web futurist.

This guy knows where the future is heading. He knows what needs to be done to get there. He knows how to get there. All he needs now is the means.

And that’s one of the reasons he’s living in Adelaide – because in this city, “the means” look more promising than anywhere else right now.

It’s why so many self-proclaimed nerds, software engineers, tech-heads and big data crunchers are starting to see Adelaide as their field of dreams – because here is where you want to be to test big bold crazy ideas and transform them into innovative, smart, practical applications designed to make our lives easier, and provide them a handsome living.

“The rollout of the nbn™ network, the City Council’s fibre network and the State Government’s SABRENET fibre expansion are providing access to the kind of infrastructure we need,” Dr Flackett explained.

“Artificial intelligence is all around us now. I think it’s such a part of our everyday lives, as a society we’re beginning to be less scared of it.

“‘Siri’ is a perfect example of an artificial being that has just blended into our lives.

“But to develop other, better, more-powerful artificial intelligent applications, we need to be able to process huge amounts of data with specific algorithms – in other words, computers that learn for themselves.

“People used to believe that algorithms were king. That’s not right. Data is king.

“Microsoft, Google and Amazon recently released their algorithms and computing platforms for use by anyone in the world who wants them. The reason for this was simple. Those systems may have taken years to develop, but without data they are useless.

“These days, cloud-based platforms allow the ability to process huge volumes of data, which is why high volume data connectivity is such an essential tool.

“All across the world we are accumulating so much data, but we cannot possibly know what it all means unless we can unlock the insights it holds that in turn helps us to develop smart applications for its use.

“When I was doing my PhD in 2005, I developed neural networks (computers based loosely on the brain) – so I’d show the computer different sentences and expect it to work out the syntax of those sentences.

“It took more than three weeks for the computer to learn the information. In essence, I was teaching it by feeding it lots of data and getting it to work out the information for itself. That is, creating artificial intelligence, or ‘machine learning’.

“These days, that same computation would take just minutes, because today we have the computing power necessary to process very large amounts of data very quickly.

“With cloud services we’re only just touching on the possibilities of its potential and things are only going to speed up from here.

“So yeah, with so many new fibre networks all being built to connect data systems across this one area, cool things are about to start happening in Adelaide,” nodded Dr Flackett.

Check your address to see if you can connect to the nbn™ network.