Integrated decision making for smart cities

NUS is collaborating with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and Nanyang Technological University in a new S$56 million hybrid artificial intelligence programme to develop solutions that support the creation of smart cities.

The five-year DesCartes Programme, which is funded by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF), aims to enhance real-time decision-making in urban-critical systems, with a focus on individuals and society at large. Based in Singapore at the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE), the programme will be hosted by CNRS@CREATE. It will tap on the expertise of the CNRS, A*STAR, 18 universities from both Singapore and France, as well as five companies.

“The primary objective of the DesCartes Programme is decision-making in ‘critical urban systems’, which is one of the many key challenges related to the ‘smart city’ concept that many societies are striving towards. The CNRS has made AI and its applications one of its priorities, especially nurturing international partnerships. This is one way to extend the research conducted at Interdisciplinary Institutes of Artificial Intelligence localised in France, and to expand one of its components to include Singapore,” said Dominique Baillargeat, Director of CNRS@CREATE.

One of the Co-Directors of the DesCartes Programme is Professor Abhik Roychoudhury from NUS Computing, who will focus on the foundations of intelligent computing and its translation in the different case studies, for trustworthy integrated decision making in smart cities. He and his NUS team will validate techniques involving formal methods, intelligent control, smart data, and human-AI collaboration on a large number of industrial case studies including electricity network, smart building and future transportation networks. They will also work with the other partners to ensure that the foundational concepts are translated via industrial collaboration.

Commenting on NUS’ involvement in the collaboration, Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology), said, “We look forward to contributing our research strengths that are aligned with the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan, such as AI, intelligent modelling, analytics and cybersecurity, to advance trusted decision-making for crucial systems like electricity networks, smart buildings, and future transportation networks. By bringing together the best researchers from Singapore and France, I am confident that we can generate a comprehensive range of innovative solutions to enable smart cities of the future.”

The DesCartes Programme will ride on the strong AI research collaborations between Singapore and France. It will focus on four areas – data and its applications; verifiable and explicable AI; natural language processing; and human-machine/AI interaction.

Some 30 PhD students, 50 postdoctoral fellows, and over 80 other academics and researchers from both countries will be recruited to support the development of solutions and innovations. The innovations developed from the collaboration will support Singapore’s Smart Nation objectives, and its ongoing digital transformation efforts.