DOST offers P18-M grant for AI project to help solve city’s problems

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) is offering an P18-million grant to the city government for Project MINERVA (Monitoring for Indicators for Efficient Redevelopment and Value Assessment).      

This was revealed by the City Mayor’s Office Chief of Staff Engr. Felipe Puzon, Jr. during the regular management committee meeting of local officials, March 1, led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong at Baguio Convention Center.      

The project aims to complement the city’s urban renewal and smart city initiatives through data science and artificial intelligence as well as leverage existing local government datasets and technologies in conjunction with the deployment of new sensors and publicly-available data to create a data hub.     

He said the Asian Institute of Management  will give a counterpart funding of P3-million for research and development activities of the project; another P3-million from the city government as testbed and first adopter; in cooperation with the University of the Philippines for academic and start-up collaboration in research and development.

The project intends to complement the city’s urban and ecological renewal efforts from the lens of the proponents’ fields of expertise:  Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Complex Systems and Agent-Based Modeling.     

Puzon said four focus areas were identified: Air pollution; water supply and quality; urban mobility; and tourism demand.      

Under air pollution, the project will create, test and deploy AI models for predicting air quality and pollution levels within the city and identify the most significant contributing factors while it will create, test and deploy models for monitoring human urban mobility patterns within the city’s central business district.     

AI models will be created, tested and deployed for predicting tourist demand (number of visiting tourists) at points of interest as well as identifying the most significant factors to these while under water supply and quality, a water quality sensor network will be deployed, he said.    

Puzon said Baguio  was chosen for the project since being the country’s Summer Capital, it has become a magnet for local and international tourists and taken together with Baguio’s development as a highly-urbanized city, the emergence of worsening environmental issues and urban decay is perhaps inevitable and must be countered.   

The project cited an earlier report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that identified six areas of particular concern for Baguio to arrest further deterioration and start its urban renewal: Air quality; water quality of rivers; solid waste management; forest cover; traffic congestion; proliferation of informal settlers and illegal structure.   

To address these problems, the city has settled on transformation into a smart city that involves the use of information and communications technology for streamlining government processes, among others. – Gaby B. Keith