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Stockton is first California city to use AI to bolster code enforcement

Stockton will use AI to strengthen city's code enforcement
Stockton will use AI to strengthen city's code enforcement 02:23

STOCKTON - Stockton is using artificial intelligence to combat blight and city code violations.

The City of Stockton is hoping a program that is costing the city nearly $240,000 a year can help make its code enforcement department more efficient.

There are seven code enforcement vacancies in the city, and with only 13 officers looking over the entire city, officials say this new artificial intelligence can help lighten the workload.

Al Greco has had his comic book shop on Stockton's Miracle Mile since the late 1970s. Recently, he's had his run-ins with graffiti on the empty side of his building.

"It just keeps coming back. It's never-ending," he said.

It's painted over now, but he's sure it'll come back unless something changes.

"I think it would be worth it if they can stop some of the problems," Greco said.

The Stockton City Council is trying to make that change. Just last week, the council approved the use of AI to work with the code enforcement branch of the police department.

The Alabama-based company City Detect uses predictive artificial intelligence to find graffiti, blight, or any other city violations just by using a camera on the roof of code enforcement trucks.

"We are the first in California to have this software," said Almarosa Vargas Fawal with code enforcement.

Fawal said residents will begin seeing the cameras as early as next year. Once installed, officers will drive around like normal and the AI will take photos of these violations.

"This is going to change the way code enforcement operates everywhere because this is going to be able to take that decision out of the officers' hands and have the software detect it for us," Fawal said.

For Greco, he wants to see it before he believes it.

"There's still more they could do. AI can't solve everything," he said.

During a week-long test run this past January within the city of Stockton, the City Detect AI found 4,000 violations on 2,500 different properties. Fawal said that when the city saw the results, they were blown away.

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