Briefing – Artificial Intelligence in smart cities and urban mobility – 23-07-2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabling smart urban solutions brings multiple benefits, including more efficient energy, water and waste management, reduced pollution, noise and traffic congestions. Local authorities face relevant challenges undermining the digital transformation from the technological, social and regulatory standpoint, namely (i) technology and data availability and reliability, the dependency on third private parties and the lack of skills; (ii) ethical challenges for the unbiased use of AI; and (iii) the difficulty of regulating interdependent infrastructures and data, respectively. To overcome the identified challenges, the following actions are recommended: • EU-wide support for infrastructure and governance on digitalisation, including high performance computing, integrated circuits, CPUs and GPU’s, 5G, cloud services, Urban Data Platforms, enhancing efficiency and ensuring at the same time unbiased data collection. • Inclusion of urban AI in EU research programs addressing data exchange, communication networks and policy on mobility and energy, enhancing capacity building initiatives, also through test and experimentation facilities. • Harmonising AI related policies in the EU, taking into account the context specificity: necessary research. • Adoption of innovative procurement procedures, entailing requirements for technical and ethically responsible AI.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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Briefing – EU rural development policy: Impact, challenges and outlook – 08-07-2021

On 30 June 2021, the European Commission adopted a communication on its long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas. The communication identifies areas of action with a view to creating new momentum for the EU’s rural areas, while recognising their diversity. In recent decades, in many Member States rural areas have experienced depopulation. Such regions face a range of environmental and socio-economic challenges. These include, for example, lower income per capita, a higher percentage of the population at risk of poverty and social exclusion, a lack of access to basic infrastructure and services, and lower levels of access to fast broadband internet. The EU’s rural development policy has sought to help address these challenges. Evaluation evidence is emerging on the impact of the common agricultural policy (CAP) on the territorial development of the EU’s rural areas. Measures relating to village renewal and LEADER (Liaison entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie rurale) measures are considered to be well-targeted and relevant to local needs, although they represent a small proportion of CAP financing. Administrative burdens have been raised as an issue that can impact on the developmental process. Recommendations from this evaluation evidence point to the need for better integration of funding streams, the need to maintain a dialogue across the European structural funds, and all the implications this may have for the new CAP strategic plans. The Commission’s recommendations to Member States on their CAP strategic plans highlight a number of recurring themes relating to the employment, education and training needs of rural areas, including the need to address rural depopulation, promote generational renewal, improve connectivity, and address the role played by action taken at local level. The Commission’s communication on a long-term vision for rural areas includes provision for a ‘rural pact’ to engage actors at EU, national, rural and local levels and an EU rural action plan, setting out a range of initiatives and actionable projects. The vision and its supporting analyses will provide a framework for addressing the future of the EU’s rural areas.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Artificial Intelligence and public services – 22-07-2021

AI has become a key enabling technology in public services and its use has increased over the past two years.Ensuring explainabilty of AI systems in public services is crucial but difficult to achieve in case of black-box algorithms. In AI applications in public services, focus is on law enforcement, surveillance and process optimisation. AI for front-end public services seems less of a priority. There is a growing public concern over the development and use of AI in society. With the increase of its use, the potential for errors and harms also increases.The public sector should lead the way in creating trustworthy AI. Regulatory sandboxing and pre-procurement are key for creating trustworthy AI for public services.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – New EU strategic priorities for the Sahel: Addressing regional challenges through better governance – 09-07-2021

Recent events have shown that the Sahel region remains highly politically unstable. The military takeover of the Chadian government following President Idriss Déby’s sudden death in April 2021 and the repercussions of the August 2020 and May 2021 military coups in Mali are worrying signs of weak democratic governance structures. Burkina Faso’s transitional democracy has also been severely destabilised by the activities of extremist groups and internal conflicts. This political fragility and the lack of government legitimacy have made the responses to the Sahel’s security and humanitarian issues all the more challenging. The continued threat posed by terrorist armed groups and rising intercommunal violence over land and resources have led to both internal and cross-border displacements in Sahel countries. Meanwhile, the inadequacy of governance mechanisms for managing this displacement, compounded by environmental degradation, resource scarcity and population growth, has created a severe humanitarian crisis. Since 2011, the European Union (EU) strategy for the Sahel has focused on both security and development to address these numerous and interconnected challenges. However, EU efforts have remained dominated by a military approach to tackle rising terrorist activity, achieving concrete results but ultimately falling short of long-term regional stability. The new EU integrated strategy in the Sahel aims to strengthen action at the political level, focusing on governance mechanisms, human rights, and collaboration with civil society and local authorities, while maintaining security cooperation with states in the region.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Connecting Europe Facility 2021-2027: Financing key EU infrastructure networks – 01-07-2021

The EU supports the development of high-performing, sustainable and interconnected trans-European networks in the areas of transport, energy and digital infrastructure. It set up the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) as a dedicated financing instrument for the 2014-2020 period, to channel EU funding into the development of infrastructure networks, help eliminate market failures and attract further investment from the public and private sectors. Following a mid-term evaluation, the European Commission proposed to renew the programme under the long term EU budget for the 2021-2027 period. In the 2014-2019 term, the Council and the European Parliament provisionally agreed on the content, leaving aside the budget and the questions relating to third countries. Negotiations resumed in the present term, reflecting the Commission’s revised MFF proposal of May 2020 and the European Council conclusions of July 2020. Final details were agreed on 11 March 2021. The agreement has already been confirmed by the responsible parliamentary committees TRAN and ITRE, and the Council subsequently adopted its first-reading position on 14 June 2021. The Parliament is expected to vote at second reading during the July plenary session. Once adopted, the new CEF regulation will apply retroactively from 1 January 2021. Fifth edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Measures to advance the realisation of the trans-European transport network: Integrated and faster project procedures – 02-07-2021

With the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) policy, the European Union seeks to develop a modern, efficient and climate-friendly network covering all transport modes. Despite the TEN-T’s importance for the economy and society, and despite the binding timelines and targeted financial support, it risks not being completed as planned. This is partly due to complex administrative procedures linked to permit-granting for cross-border projects as well as broader regulatory uncertainty, often resulting in delays and increased cost. To speed up the network’s completion, the Commission has proposed regulatory measures to integrate and shorten permit-granting for projects, and facilitate public consultations and the involvement of private investors. On 8 June 2020, the Parliament and the Council agreed on a ‘smart TEN-T directive’, with this legal form giving Member States more flexibility. The text could not however be adopted before the finalisation of the new Connecting Europe Facility programme, as the annexes of both texts are interlinked. The Council adopted its first-reading position on the ‘smart TEN-T directive’ on 14 June 2021 and the Parliament is due to vote on it during the July plenary session. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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