Puerto Rico looks to rebuild with AI, ‘internet of things’

BAYAMON, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor said Monday that he hopes a new technology centre can help the U.S. territory incorporate artificial intelligence and internet -connected devices as it rebuilds from Hurricane Maria.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said the lab located in the northern city of Bayamon will be completed in four months and will be run by a local company, Engine-4. It will receive resources and help from companies including Intel, AT&T, IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

“The opportunities are enormous,” he said. “It allows us to take these ideas and give them shape.”

He said Intel will create an innovation centre within the lab to focus on artificial intelligence technology, “internet of things” devices and drones.

Rossello said he expects some projects will help create “smart cities” with features that might include technologies to detect flooding in the event of a storm, adding that the lab will be open to high school and university students.

Construction of the lab comes as Puerto Rico continues to rebuild from a deadly Category 4 storm that hit in September 2017 and caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.

“This is what’s going to help us move forward,” said Glorimar Ripoll, Puerto Rico’s chief innovation officer.

The city of Bayamon is investing nearly $560,000 to build the lab, along with $250,000 in incentives from Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic and Commercial Development, plus $50,000 donated by Puerto Rico’s Science, Technology & Research Trust and $48,000 in incentives from AT&T.

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