Convergence and collaboration will lead to safer, smarter cities
- By Kevin Wine
- Apr 01, 2017
Safe City initiatives are one of the best ways to
build an efficient, proactive security posture that
strives to enhance safety and propel increased
collaboration between city officials, security leaders,
law enforcement and first responders. These
relationship-centric projects incorporate a broad network of
tools and partnerships to achieve the kind of safety and security
that today’s cities and municipalities strive to provide citizens on
a regular basis. The tools in use within these systems play a vital
role in this goal, but the relationships built through collaboration
become the hallmark of a positive plan.
At its core, a Safe City program is built on three main factors: robust
processes, collaborative relationships and technology. All three
components must work in conjunction to build a successful Safe City
program. It is critical that these pieces come together to solve the
challenge of building a safer and smarter city.
Cities face specific security challenges that are also significant business
issues (yes, a city is like a corporate enterprise in many ways).
There are costly and damaging disruptions if risk is not appropriately
controlled. Where threats were once limited to physical acts,
local governments are now often exposed to network breaches, identity
theft, malware attacks and social media sabotage. Because of
the growing risks from a wide variety of angles, cities should look at
building a security program using input from various internal teams
to create strong processes to navigate risk mitigation and security
officials’ ability to address possible threats to the safety and security
of citizens. Without processes—such as active shooter response
protocols, a workplace violence prevention program and password
protection policies—an organization’s security potential cannot be
Security is no longer a siloed function. As a result, lines are blurring
between those responsible for physical, IT and cyber security,
causing a shift from simply protecting people to managing complex
risks, such as network breaches, personal safety for traveling employees
and pandemic planning. Therefore, organizational structures
must align resources with the need to protect people, physical assets,
networks and valuable data.
There is also opportunity to expand the conversation across the walls
of public agencies. Private businesses experience the same threats as
public safety, including criminal activity, IT threats, theft and terrorism.
When events occur, critical information that can be used to mitigate
an incident can originate from multiple sources and locations.
After the Boston Marathon Bombing, for example, retail businesses
shared video surveillance with the police, aiding in the capture
of those responsible. This example demonstrates why public and
private organizations are now forming partnerships that will enable
them to share information more easily—with a goal to work together
to proactively address situations and mitigate risks.
The value of these types of partnerships and collaborations is
proven and is demonstrated in successful Safe City programs around
the globe. In Guayquil, Ecuador, officials leverage situational awareness
platforms to share information quickly with third parties, such
as the justice department, which helps expedite and close investigations.
This effort has propelled a partnership that is mutually beneficial,
and provides a service to the community as a whole.
When it comes to technology, security management solutions, video
surveillance, and security intelligence tools are valuable in helping
cities collect data. Looking beyond traditional security solutions, the
ways in which data is sourced is evolving—in today’s world, there is
an amazing amount of information available through social media,
Big Data analysis, the Internet of Things, GPS, traffic management,
and countless other networked applications.
The downside of such an abundance of available information is
knowing and identifying what information is relevant and useful. By
combining systems and devices into one situational awareness platform
or one ‘single pane of glass,’ it is easier to correlate data points
and identify the most relevant information at any given time. Pooling
data from multiple systems allows involved operators to accurately
assess risk and identify threats, allowing cities to build public safety
plans in a more proactive manner.
In Pune, India, situational awareness platforms are critical components
of the city’s overall security plan, which was developed to
deliver a proactive approach to traffic management and safety efforts
while aiding response to threats. Local police and first responders
use the system to correlate information from multiple sources
into one solution and conduct effective 24/7 monitoring of the city.
By using centralized security management software in its command
center, the city realizes faster investigations, increased public safety
and less crime.
If you look closely at the discussion points above, it is clear that the
themes are the same across all three: convergence, integration and
collaboration. High levels of safety is of the utmost importance to
public municipalities, and to achieve safer, smarter security efforts,
there must be a focus on incorporating people, processes and technologies
together for the greater good (and to realize the business
benefits of efficiencies across city infrastructures).
The combination of security teams, technology integration, and
public-private partnerships allows cities and governments to be more
focused, effectively identify threats, and quickly access relevant data
to meet evolving requirements.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Security Today.