Artificial intelligence for greater sustainability and quality of life in cities: GREENTECH FESTIVAL and Audi give GREEN FUTURE Award to Zencity

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Presentation of the GREEN FUTURE Awards at the Day of Progress: Assaf Frances, Director Urban Policy & Partnerships von Zencity, next to the Audi RS e-tron GT

The GREENTECH FESTIVAL and Audi as one of the founding partners of the sustainability platform created by Sven Krüger, Marco Voigt, and Nico Rosberg awarded the GREEN FUTURE award together for the first time as part of the world premiere of the Audi e-tron GT. The prize is part of the GREEN AWARDS of the festival and distinguishes projects and persons that promote environmentally compatible urbanization while making an important contribution to improving the quality of life and urban infrastructures at the same time. The award went to Tel Aviv–based start-up Zencity, which developed an algorithm that collects and analyzes social media posts and local news from cities.

The UN already predicted that more than two thirds of people will live in cities by the middle of this century in its “World Urbanization Prospects” study in 2018. Already in 2030, the United Nations expect that there will be 43 megacities worldwide. Making life in cities as environmentally friendly and socially just as possible is therefore one of the major tasks of this decade. By initiating an award precisely for this endeavor, the GREENTECH FESTIVAL and AUDI AG aim to draw attention to this challenge and promote innovative solutions, support founders in the early stages of their projects, and encourage public dialogue.

GREEN FUTURE Award as a special prize of the GREENTECH FESTIVAL

Nominees included projects from the fields of energy, water, mobility, construction and living, digitalization, safety and security, and resources. The jury was comprised of representatives of the WWF, Deutsche Bahn, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), and the fashion label of rap artist Marteria Green Berlin, who are also members of the GREEN AWARDS jury of the sustainability platform. The jury evaluated the projects in terms of their contribution to environmental protection, scalability, technical innovation, and future viability. The GREEN FUTURE Award is a special prize that is part of the GREEN AWARDS of the festival and highlights the opportunities of sustainable technologies for the cities of the future.

As part of the digital world premiere of the latest electric car from Audi, the Audi e-tron G, two of the founders of the GREENTECH FESTIVAL, Nico Rosberg and Marco Voigt, CEO Judith Kühn and Henrik Wenders, Senior Vice President Audi Brand, handed the award to Assaf Frances, Director Urban Policy & Partnerships of Zencity in a live ceremony. Nico Rosberg: “Time is a critical factor when it comes to climate change, and we need to act now. Start-ups like Zencity provide us with the necessary tools. We need technologies like Zencity’s AI to live up to our responsibility and put a stop to the destruction of our environment. With this special award, we are demonstrating what today’s technology is already capable of when it comes to shaping our near future in urban areas that is sustainable and offers quality of life. We made a conscious decision to award the GREEN FUTURE Award in a different setting today, so as to reach as many new people as possible and spark their enthusiasm for a sustainable lifestyle.” Henrik Wenders, SVP Audi Brand: “Audi stands for Vorsprung – our aim is to use technology to contribute to a sustainable future and to shape urban mobility in such a way that the main focus is on the people. As an active partner of the GREENTECH FESTIVAL, we want to provide real added value and do our part to find answers to the pressing questions of the future.”

Algorithms are the key for developing local solutions

Zencity was developed by Eyal Feder-Levy and Ido Ivri as an intuitive AI tool for local administrations. It uses an algorithm to find social media posts, websites, local news, and other online sources that contain information referring to the cities in which the people making these posts live. Advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning allow millions of user data points from the defined area, such as within a city’s limits, to be processed and to generate informative findings on this basis. Customers of Zencity include municipal authorities that can use this data as a basis for understanding the needs of their inhabitants and making them a reality. This method conserves resources and replaces expensive and time-consuming face-to-face surveys, citizen hotlines, and committee meetings. This way, the tool helps all inhabitants of a city to gain the attention of political decision-makers and does so in an automated way, without complex reporting processes or bureaucratic obstacles. Zencity is already in use in 160 cities, including Chicago, Ottawa, and Tel Aviv.

Nominations for Strabag and Sensoneo

Other nominees included Strabag and its CIAir project and Sensoneo with its solution for intelligent waste management. The clean asphalt from Strabag reduces noise emissions by up to 35 percent as compared to conventional asphalt. The gritting material used for the asphalt consists of ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) mixed with titanium dioxide. When exposed to sunlight, it breaks down nitrogen oxides bound in the air and converts them into harmless nitrates. The material is incorporated directly into the hot asphalt surface. Sensoneo offers intelligent waste disposal solutions for cities and companies. They range from plant tracking for containers and all the way to an automated on-demand solution for more efficient collection planning. This way, three solutions for smart waste management are combined: asset management, waste monitoring, and route planning.