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CITYDATA.ai: Providing municipalities with real-time insights through powerful AI/ML models

About CITYDATA.ai

CITYDATA.ai is a public sector-focused technology company that helps municipalities maximize the value of population data through real-time insights about population density and movement.

Industries: Technology, Government & Public Sector
Location: United States

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About 66degrees

66degrees, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, believes great engineering takes heart. The company empowers technologists to master the cloud with an end-to-end approach to security, infrastructure, app development, and day-to-day collaboration.

CITYDATA.ai uses Google Cloud and partner 66degrees to provide municipalities with vital insights about population density and movement patterns for highly informed decision-making.

Google Cloud results

  • Reduces IT costs by up to 20 percent by optimizing stack configuration
  • Optimizes mobility data costs to one-third the cost of alternative approaches
  • Enables computation of mobility patterns in more than 1,500 cities globally
  • Accelerates AI/ML model builds, testing, and deployments through intuitive cloud infrastructure

Improves speed and quality of decision-making at municipal offices

As digital technologies are adopted more widely by municipalities worldwide, more governments are looking to tap into the promise of smart, connected cities. Advanced technologies including Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, connected vehicle networks, and citizen-facing digital channels are increasingly common and provide public officials with an ever-expanding universe of data about local populations, infrastructure, and much more.

Municipalities need the data analytics tools and expertise to get the most value from what has become this vast and growing pool of useful data. One particular challenge, however, is that most municipalities often face tight budgets and limited flexibility to add staff.

CITYDATA.ai was launched with a mission to enable cities worldwide to use proven machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to improve how governments operate and the services citizens enjoy. A critical part of that goal is understanding how people move through a city, requiring real-time insights into where people are and where they’re going.

“Everyone on the CITYDATA.ai team is civic-minded,” says Apu Kumar, founder and chief executive officer of CITYDATA.ai. “We always wanted to apply our expertise in geospatial and mobility analytics to a worthy cause. Helping municipalities along their digital transformation journeys is the perfect niche for us.”

With ambitions to scale quickly and support thousands of the world’s most populated cities, CITYDATA.ai knew it would need the right cloud services vendor and a trusted partner to assist its growing team. The company chose to work with Google Cloud and partner 66degrees to rapidly grow its platform and customer base.

“66degrees was the perfect partner to provide everything we needed to get up and running with Google Cloud. We are extremely happy with our choice to partner with them.”

Apu Kumar, founder and Chief Executive Officer, CITYDATA.ai

Adopting cloud technology with confidence

CITYDATA.ai set out to adopt the best cloud technology from the start, but was a new company with tight budgets, small teams, and limited experience in the cloud. It chose to work with Google Cloud partner 66degrees early on to have an extra layer of support as it built up its platform and cloud expertise.

“Being a young startup, controlling costs was a priority. Any tools, guidance, and training on the efficient and effective use of Google Cloud was very welcomed,” says Apu. “66degrees was the perfect partner to provide everything we needed to get up and running with Google Cloud. We are extremely happy with our choice to partner with them.”

66degrees has also enabled roughly 20 percent cost reductions by optimizing the company’s technology stack with improved configurations. These savings allowed CITYDATA.ai to scale up its use of Google faster and more confidently, which in turn meant it could serve more cities.

In just two years, CITYDATA.ai has scaled up from computing mobility insights in 100 cities to 1,580 cities worldwide. The combination of Google Cloud and 66degrees support helps the relatively small CITYDATA.ai team to not only compute mobility insights in all of these cities, but also to provide a one-of-a-kind service to municipalities that includes mobile apps and services, chatbots, data collection and analytics, and more.

“Making Google Cloud our cloud provider of choice just made sense. Compared to other cloud environments, it is so much easier to pick and choose the exact solutions we need and then tie everything together through Cloud Functions.”

Apu Kumar, founder and Chief Executive Officer, CITYDATA.ai

Understanding municipal data for smarter public works decisions

At the outset of its launch, CITYDATA.ai embedded itself in municipal offices to fully understand the challenges to achieving a “smart city” status. Through this process, the company was also able to gain expertise in the types of data available and the insights cities hope to glean from that data.

“While we were really learning how governments work, we quickly recognized the big learning curve most government officials face when it comes to applying innovative technologies to address citizen needs,” says Carl Nielson, managing director of North America, Europe, and the Middle East at CITYDATA.ai. “We knew our platform had to be extremely intuitive to succeed, and we would need to be a resource for our clients, educating and supporting them throughout adoption.”

CITYDATA.ai recognized early on that Google Cloud would be the right choice for its unique needs, particularly for data analytics and mobile app development. The company uses Dialogflow extensively to power the chatbot apps it develops for municipalities, as well as Flutter to build the apps. Firebase provides the infrastructure for push notifications and geofenced alerts.

“Making Google Cloud our cloud provider of choice just made sense,” says Apu. “Compared to other cloud environments, it is so much easier to pick and choose the exact solutions we need, and then tie everything together through Cloud Functions. We recognized that a couple of years ago, and we still believe it today. There are so many good reasons to move to and stay with Google Cloud.”

Google Cloud also proved to be the right choice given the environment’s ML and AI solutions. While embedding itself with local governments, CITYDATA.ai quickly recognized mobility data and intelligence as one of the largest gaps facing municipalities.

Combining various Google Cloud solutions with its deep knowledge of mobile data intelligence and the inner workings of municipalities, CITYDATA.ai can provide users with meaningful insights into a range of issues important to citizens. This was especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, CITYDATA.ai provided the city of San Francisco insights to fuel a Slow Street Initiative during the pandemic, effectively giving officials all the information they needed to choose which streets they could make pedestrian-only. This has been a highly popular initiative, and data insights provided by CITYDATA.ai helps ensure that officials do not close off a street in a way that would be economically or socially disruptive to businesses and citizens.

“The fact that we can run everything that we are trying to achieve in a single cloud is a testament to the power of Google Cloud,” says Apu.

“The ease with which you can build, train, and deploy AI/ML models in Google Cloud gives us a big advantage that serves our business and our customers well.”

Apu Kumar, founder and Chief Executive Officer, CITYDATA.ai

Getting the most out of anonymized data

CITYDATA.ai works with anonymized data from a range of sources to gain visibility into where people are in a city while adhering to local and national privacy protection regulations. This data comes from sensors in a city, such as solar lighting points, parking sensors, EV charging stations, and more. For open spaces, this anonymized data could come from WiFi hotspot partners, mobile app developers, and others.

All of this anonymized data creates massive data streams that need to be managed efficiently and analyzed in real time to provide municipalities with information at any moment.

“We had a lot of considerations when looking for a cloud vendor, but Google Cloud AI/ML capabilities were the biggest drivers of our decision,” says Apu. “The ease with which you can build, train, and deploy AI/ML models in Google Cloud gives us a big advantage that serves our business and our customers well.”

Now, CITYDATA.ai is experimenting with Vertex AI to create knowledge graphs built by ingesting various data sources into a graph database with built-in ML. By combining out-of-the-box solutions with its own expertise in AI/ML modeling, the company is getting closer to its goal of helping even more municipalities worldwide understand the population and movements of people in their cities.

“Many cities around the globe simply don’t have the budgets to become ‘smart cities,’” says Apu. “Our unique services will help all cities make data-driven decisions that improve the quality of life of their citizens. With Google Cloud solutions and support from 66degrees, we are looking to scale up from 1,580 cities to 5,000 cities globally in the coming years.”

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About CITYDATA.ai

CITYDATA.ai is a public sector-focused technology company that helps municipalities maximize the value of population data through real-time insights about population density and movement.

Industries: Technology, Government & Public Sector
Location: United States

About 66degrees

66degrees, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, believes great engineering takes heart. The company empowers technologists to master the cloud with an end-to-end approach to security, infrastructure, app development, and day-to-day collaboration.