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Published: 17 Mar, 2022

Sustainable, smart cities and AI - research and experience meet

NEWS How to create a sustainable, accessible and equitable city and how to avoid crises with the help of AI? WASP-HS is a unique research programme focusing on AI and its effects and coordinated by Umeå University. Throughout the year, WASP-HS organises meetings between academia and society to engage in a dialogue on these issues.

Text: Hanna Nordin

WASP-HS Community Reference Meetings (CRM) are intended for public and private organisations in Sweden, and for stakeholders who want to learn more about the challenges and issues related to AI and its effects. It is also an opportunity for WASP-HS to share the latest research developments within the programme to identify opportunities for collaboration across sectors. 

Now, the third CRM meeting is organised and the theme of the day is the issue of sustainability and smart cities.

– The aim of the meeting is to showcase the unique competences and lessons learned by the participants during the day, says Lina Rahm, Associate Professor at the Department of History of Science, Technology and Environment at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).

During the day, specific experiences will be highlighted, but also a broader discussion that will reveal new synergies and possible overlaps. The hope of WASP-HS is that these meetings will create a breeding ground and increased understanding of complex issues and a forum for new questions to be asked.

– We hope to contribute to increased collaboration across disciplinary and organisational boundaries. Ultimately, we expect the occasion to also be popular and open up democratic civic conversations," continues Lina Rahm, who is one of the researchers holding roundtable discussions at the meeting.

In a number of Sweden's municipalities and cities, there is currently a strong focus on making cities smart. Smart cities use information technology, such as AI and autonomous systems, to improve efficiency, quality of life and economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Mikael Wiberg, Professor of Computer Science at Umeå University, will hold a roundtable discussion on autonomous urban transport.

– We will discuss AI in physical form, autonomous buses for public transport, and the trend towards integration of AI and IoT - Internet of Things. Meeting and discussing these developments and what they mean for the cities of the future and their citizens is important, touching the whole spectrum from technical issues to acceptance, via laws, rules and regulations, to more fundamental questions about the role AI should play in the society we want to see and further develop, says Mikael Wiberg.

The event will begin with an introduction by Professor Virginia Dignum, WASP-HS Programme Director. This will be followed by a panel discussion between Linda Gustafsson, Gender Equality Strategist at Umeå Municipality and Martin Güll, Director of Digitalisation at the City of Helsingborg. Participants at the event will then be divided into three roundtables where the discussions will begin. The discussions and conclusions from the meeting will be summarised in a publication that will be published online after the meeting.


About WASP-HS

The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program - Humanities and Society (WASP-HS) is a national research program. Research in the programme examines the challenges and impacts of future technology shifts and contributes to the development of theories and methodologies for human and societal aspects of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. Particular focus is placed on the ethical, economic, labour market, social, cultural and legal aspects of the technological transition. In total, the Wallenberg Foundations are investing up to SEK 660 million in the WASP-HS research programme, a large proportion of which will go towards funding the more than 40 research projects currently underway. The projects are stationed at a total of 12 universities and research institutes around Sweden. The programme's graduate school also involves more than 70 PhD students.