For identifying business opportunities and increasing government accountability—in real time
It was a lightbulb moment—both literally and figuratively—for Felipe Lara Leyva. It all started when the founder and CTO of tech firm Percepthor was asked by Spanish infrastructure company Tecuni for a complete inventory of all the streetlights across Spain. No problem—it took him only a few hours to deliver on the request using Google Street View data. Then the tech giant changed its policies, no longer allowing Lara Leyva to download some of the critical information. So he set out to develop a solution that wouldn’t rely on outside technology—one that would ultimately offer benefits that stretched far beyond sidewalks and streetlights.
First launched as a pilot in Lara Leyva’s hometown of Mexico City, the City Digitization Project is designed to inventory images of a given street or city. The team sends out motorcyclists equipped with cameras to capture 360-degree images, then uses AI to create an indexable database. Lara
Leyva aims to have a full solution implemented this year, with plans to further test and refine the technology in the works. But companies are already clamoring for the AI-fueled tools, from advertisers tracking foot traffic and illumination near certain stores to developers crunching data to determine the most desirable location to build a new mall.
Like many of his generation, though, Lara Leyva is keen to develop solutions that deliver a social impact as well. With that vision, he founded the Applied Science and Artificial Intelligence Institute to build AI innovations beyond the scope of Percepthor’s core business. He also plans to make the public infrastructure data available for free so residents can hold government leaders and agencies accountable for repairs. That’s a bold move, but for Lara Leyva, that’s the point. “The purpose of this is obviously to make as big an impact as possible,” he says.