Verizon has taken to NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference (GTC 2018) to show off how its Smart Communities group is working to make cities safer and more efficient using an edge-to-cloud video platform called NVIDIA Metropolis. That's according to an announcement made via NVIDIA's official company blog on March 27. Specifically, the project involves using video nodes and NVIDIA's Tesla GPU accelerators, embedded in its Jetson TX1 A.I. "supercomputers," placed on city infrastructure to monitor traffic flow and inform about new possibilities for citizen services. The general idea, for now, is that by attaching A.I. enabled camera arrays to street lights, city planners will be enabled to better manage traffic for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. The company also hopes to be able to monitor for crimes, such as speeding, and that the machine learning will be able to detect problem-spots where accidents are likely to occur.
Those tasks are handled primarily at the edge of the network, but the package Verizon is said to be using also includes a link back to a cloud-based A.I. platform. NVIDIA hopes that will eventually lead to the possibility of being able to predict accidents in advance at some point in the future. Moreover, because most of the computing is handled at the edge – by individual nodes – and is connected, the companies are exploring ways to allow smart vehicles to access that data. In effect, that would allow smart vehicles to have a wider view of their surroundings, enabling them to be more efficient and safer. Taken in combination, it is hoped the abilities can help make cyclists and pedestrians safer, too.
To that end, Verizon already has testing of its NVIDIA-driven video nodes underway in both Sacramento and Boston. It's showing off the technology at this GTC 2018 through the course of the event – through March 29 – to raise awareness of its efforts and of the wider effort of both companies. Of course, it goes without saying that the thought of A.I. powered cameras watching is going to strike some as being very Orwellian. That's particularly true since NVIDIA says that Verizon isn't the only company using its platform but that it's already in use by over 100 companies globally. Some measure of distrust is bound to grow from that but if the project goes as planned, it could make cities a whole lot safer for everybody.