We live (and drive) in an age of big data. There are millions of lines of code behind your Google searches, smartphone apps, and car operating systems generate a record of your actions. Almost everything we do creates a data trail.

The beauty of this record is that the more devices connected to each other, the more we can map our movements and solve more problems with that data.

One approach uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drill down into complex statistical information to find solutions we might miss while we’re busy with life. For example, what’s really causing traffic jams outside of rush hour, and where is there an open parking space nearby? These are questions that come up all the time in growing cities filling up with people and vehicles. Navigating the built environment on wheels is a typical frustration. It doesn’t have to be, though.

The city of Zürich, Switzerland, boasts wide streets with little to no congestion, even at rush hour. It’s like this because it was designed for quality of life and public transit, not for cars.  Few cities have the savvy and resources to upgrade or redesign infrastructure. Ford knows this, and it knows data. It is using AI to transform both.

Inside[1] reveals that Ford recently “unveiled an AI-powered database… that can recommend solutions for car safety, travel, and parking on city streets.” Brett Wheatley, Ford’s Vice President of Mobility, Marketing, and Growth spoke about the Ford City Insights platform.

The platform aims to find solutions to urban driving problems through machine learning, a form of AI. Machine Learning takes data from traffic cameras, parking garages, and other sources and calculates likelihoods, like where accidents may be more likely to take place, and it makes suggestions to solve these problems.

In the city of Ann Arbor, USA, where the database has been tested, the system identified that the problem is not too few parking places but knowing where they are. It proceeded to help drivers find them more easily.

Other American cities will soon enjoy its clever contributions including Indianapolis, Detroit, Miami, Pittsburgh, Austin, and Grand Rapids. We’re looking forward to its rollout in the rest of the world as South Africa’s cities densify and the likelihood of major traffic jams increases.

Considering how car sales contribute to congestion in cities slow to adjust to growth, it’s great to see a responsible car manufacturer sharing information for the greater good.


[1] https://inside.com/campaigns/inside-ai-18207?token=TbPDz7Sq_m1k4x2dgQLg6A