A Journey in Urban AI: Insights from Emerging Leaders – Céleste Richard

26.12.2023, All Things Urban and URBAN AI

Imagine stepping into a time machine and witnessing the evolution of a city. What pivotal moments, challenges, and innovations have shaped the urban landscape over the years? Today, as part of our 'A Journey in Urban AI' series, we delve into the dynamic world of urban artificial intelligence. We're guided by the visionary graduates of the first edition of the Urban AI Emerging Leaders Program, where pioneers are revolutionizing urbanism with data-driven insights. In this special feature, we explore the future of urban landscapes through the eyes of [Céleste Richard](https://www.linkedin.com/in/célesterichard/), an Urban Design Senior Consultant at Aretian. Equipped with a rich background in architecture and urbanism, Céleste is at the forefront of creating sustainable, innovative city environments. Under the patronage of renowned architect, engineer, and MIT Professor Carlo Ratti, who directs the Senseable City Lab and is a founding partner of the international design office Carlo Ratti Associati, All Things Urban and the URBAN AI think tank are working towards launching a new edition of the Emerging Leaders Program and are actively seeking sponsors and partners for it. Join us in exploring the transformative possibilities for our cities of tomorrow in these interviews, and [reach out](mailto:[email protected]) if you believe that your organization would be interested in supporting the new edition as a partner and sponsor. #Journey into Urban AI **What inspired you to enter the field of urban AI, and how has your journey been so far?** Coming from the urbanism field, from an early stage, I have always looked for a way of designing and planning cities in a data-driven and evidence based approach. Indeed, I had a great interest in bridging digital engineering and design, in order to shape relevant and complex urban environments. In a city, there are so many layers that need to be taken into account (mobility, people, energy, urban performance…) and urban AI can help to tackle these challenges in an integrated approach. As part of my involvement in the first cohort of the URBAN AI Emerging Leaders Program, I explored these themes in depth. You can read more about my work and thoughts on Senseable Cities in the article I wrote during the program, available [here](https://medium.com/urban-ai/the-senseable-city-1f94a56e14a6#:~:text=The%20Senseable%20City%2C%20from%20its,different%20dimensions%20of%20the%20city.). #Pivotal Moments **Can you share a pivotal moment or project in your career that significantly influenced your perspective on urban development?** One of my pivotal moments in my career that influenced my perspective on urban development was the research experience at the [Future Cities Laboratory](https://fcl.ethz.ch), in the Cognition team. I have always been interested in neuroscience, cognition, and applying it to the urban environment was fascinating. Indeed, cities are alive and driven by people, it is crucial to consider a human-centered approach, along with the AI approach, to foster a resilient and responsive urban development. {{Pic1: Personal Master project visuals, simulation of pedestrian flows.}} #Challenges and Overcoming Them **What have been some of the most challenging aspects of working in urban AI, and how did you overcome them?** I would say that one of the most challenging aspects of working in urban AI was to establish the connection between urban & AI. In fact, connecting designers and engineers closely is necessary to address the complexity of the urban AI challenges. I found it important to understand and work on both the digital and design field, becoming a versatile element, and develop innovative strategies and solutions for sustainable and adaptable urban environments. {{Pic2: }} #Future Trends **In your view, what are the emerging trends in Urban AI that professionals should be aware of?** Emerging trends in Urban AI would be the growing use of AI not only to design, but also in order to predict the use and needs of future urban environments. Currently working at [Aretian](https://www.aretian.com) Urban Analytics and Design, we make use of AI for urban performance and economic development, not just analysing today’s cities, but as well as predicting trends of future cities and innovation districts. Not solely predicting trends, but applying those predictions tangibly on site, in a resilient and flexible way. #Advice for Aspiring Professionals **What advice would you give to someone aspiring to dive into the Urban AI sector?** I would say just to have a curious and go-getter mindset. There are so many topics and challenges to be tackled, you could just start with one field within the Urban AI sector, and grow from there. Whether it is focusing on urban governance, the 15-minute city, socio-economic trends, cognitive analytics… just start from one sector and keep in mind to create strong connections with the others sectors, in order to make an impact on cities! {{Pic3: }} #Career Guidance **What advice would you give to someone aspiring to make a mark in the urban AI sector?** I would highlight the fact that knowing well your profile and your skills, as well as your aspiration, is very important. As the urban AI sector is quite significant, you need to find the right spot for yourself. It will allow you to grow nicely in the field and later make a mark and impact in the urban AI sector! {{Pic4: }} *Each interview in this A Journey in Urban AI series brilliantly showcases the transformative power of innovation in urban development. As All Things Urban and URBAN AI are preparing for the exciting launch of the second edition of the Emerging Leaders Program, we are actively seeking organizations eager to foster the next generation of urban AI talent. If your organization is ready to engage with and support these brilliant minds, please consider [reaching out](mailto:[email protected]) to us to discuss sponsorship opportunities. Your involvement could be a crucial catalyst in reshaping our urban future.*