Evergreen unveils AI solution that enables municipalities to better evaluate infrastructure projects, mitigate climate risks and invest effectively

Evergreen
·5 min read

Pilot of a scalable planning and predictions data visualization tool, created through Microsoft AI for Earth grant, examines urban heat islands across cities

Toronto, ON, Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Evergreen, a national not-for profit, has developed AI for the Resilient City, a scalable planning and prediction data visualization tool to help municipalities better evaluate infrastructure projects, plan for and mitigate impacts of climate risk and invest effectively for the future. Built on Microsoft Azure, this unique solution is funded through the AI for Earth program, a pillar of Microsoft AI for Good – a commitment to empower organizations around the world with AI technology, resources and expertise to solve humanitarian issues, advance global sustainability and amplify human capability. The City of Calgary is the first city to pilot this new tool.

“In the wake of extreme natural events, resiliency planning is finding its way to the top of the municipal agenda,” said Geoff Cape, CEO & Founder of Evergreen. “At a time when Canada needs to massively invest in its infrastructure, it is critical that municipalities have access to the technical resources to help them predict, plan and advance sustainable policy change. This innovative platform brings together world class data scientists and data storytellers to create a lasting tool that will impact the climate resilience in municipalities across the country.”

Climate-related hazards – droughts, fires, heat waves, and increasing average global temperatures – all pose serious threats to cities across Canada and around the world. Further compounding this challenge for municipalities is the lack of a planning and prediction tools that bring together crucial data in a useable platform that is defendable and trusted. In its initial phase, AI for the Resilient City, looks at extreme heat, or Urban Heat Island (UHI), a mounting problem in built-up areas, which can lead to negative effects including increased energy consumption, air pollutants, greenhouse gases and impacts to human health and comfort.

The City of Calgary is the first test city to pilot this new tool. The City’s annual average temperature is expected to increase by 5°C by the 2080s, putting the city at risk of experiencing more frequent and severe climate-related hazards, changing precipitation regimes and ecosystems. This solution provides the climate adaption teams, urban planners and other municipality stakeholders an integrated view of all the data, allowing for precision in identifying the potential infrastructure interventions in the areas of a city that are unnaturally hotter than other areas and what features of the landscape are particularly vulnerable than others. The goal of the tool is to create a baseline and project future levels of UHI and provide feedback on how planning and development policy can influence the directionality of UHI. This prepares the entire city for a climate-resilient future.

The tool has been designed on Azure to scale geographically, feature-wise and technically. Similar methodology and expertise with multiple municipalities in Canada will allow to use Azure-AI capabilities in solving other problems faced by the cities today like riverine floods, permafrost, earthquakes and other natural calamities.

The tool has been created in partnership with data science and AI company Gramener. Naveen Gattu, Gramener's Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, said, “Technology, Data, AI, and Storytelling are key enablers in combating climate change. This tool brings about the amalgamation of key datasets like NASA’s LandSat Imagery, Microsoft’s Building Footprints, an Azure open dataset and Census Data primarily aimed at Municipality Bodies, Urban Infrastructure Planners, Climate Adaptation Teams providing compelling analysis by combining these heterogeneous sources and analyzing this granularly almost at a rooftop level (30m x 30m) to take evidence based climate decisions, in its current form on Urban Heat Islands. This suite of AI tools is designed to be scalable, extendable to other parts of the country and also to address other climate change problems.”

“The cloud and AI can help us understand how the environment is changing and develop steps to better manage natural resources, but this is not a challenge any one organization can solve on its own. Combining efforts with innovative organizations like Evergreen and progressive municipalities like City of Calgary will help create more sustainable cities for everyone,” said Kevin Peesker, President, Microsoft Canada.

A demo of the AI for the Resilient City took place today at Microsoft’s Future Now conference, partnering for Greater Societal Impact. The demo and a pre-recorded session will be presented at Future Cities Canada: #UnexpectedSolutions on November 12, 2020 at 11 a.m.

For media information, please contact:
Renee Tratch | Sr. Manager, PR & Content | Evergreen | 416-596-1495 X 273 | Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Avenue, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3X8

-30-

Future Cities Canada is a national cross-sector initiative with the mission to accelerate innovation to transform cities for the benefit of all. Drawing on the expertise of its founding organizations - The McConnell Foundation, TD Bank Group, Evergreen, Maison de l’innovation sociale and Community Foundations of Canada - and together with a diverse and growing network of partners, Future Cities Canada collectively strives to address the challenges facing cities and city-dwellers to reimagine cities that are equitable, regenerative and prosperous. www.futurecitiescanada.ca

Evergreen is dedicated to making cities flourish. Since 1991, the national not-for-profit has been hard at work transforming spaces into great places so that communities can thrive. We believe that by connecting people, natural and built worlds, we can enable Canadians to do great things that will shape our cities for the better. www.evergreen.ca

CONTACT: Renee Tratch, Sr. Manager, PR & Content Evergreen rtratch@evergreen.ca