Smarter, safer cities enhance quality of life through intelligence and awareness
- By Eran Wachman
- May 01, 2017
Safe City initiatives are a great way to build an efficient, proactive
security posture to enhance safety and propel increased
collaboration between city officials, security leaders, law
enforcement and first responders. Cooperation, including
public-private alliances, allows cities to identify current threats while
learning and analyzing data points to address future risks. Safe City
initiatives help cities achieve accurate situational awareness by aggregating
a large amount of data and turning it into valuable information,
which enables officials to identify threats, manage emergency
situations and investigate incidents.
As modern cities grow, officials require more effective and efficient
intelligence-gathering processes. However, some metropolitan
areas do not have the proper technology to gather valuable safety
information while others attempt to cope with an overwhelming
amount of data from hundreds of different sensors.
There are many benefits of Safe City initiatives, and this article
outlines the most prominent reasons why cities, regions, and states
can benefit from Safe City efforts and covers the best methods to
achieve increased levels of awareness along the way.
Advanced, intelligent systems and sensors are used in cities across the
globe to capture a wide array of information. Data obtained from Internet
of Things devices, social media, and the Web, as well as video
surveillance cameras help ensure safety and optimize operations. But
the amount of data collected today can be overwhelming. Cities need
methods to transform raw data into valuable insight—only then can
they reach more informed, intelligent decisions. Data analysis helps
operators make sense of a wide variety of information sources to proactively
detect risk and activate efficient response.
Efficient Data Management
By grouping data sources together, security command centers receive
a unified and comprehensive view of safety and operations across
a region, allowing rapid identification of issues or trends. Security
management and situational awareness solutions fuse information
together and present it in a unified manner to allow operators to
quickly determine what is happening at any given time. Comprehensive
security intelligence is achieved, which drives informed risk
Centralized command centers need to quickly disseminate vital
communications to help responders and citizens remain alert
and aware. With mobile communications, operators can issue announcements
and warnings via smart device applications. Command-
and-control centers can interface with law enforcement,
using real-time communications for efficient dispatch and distribution
of information to guide forces in the field. This level of communication
gives authorities the ability to collaborate with security
A driving force behind every Safe City initiative is citizen engagement.
Each person is a walking sensor that can report on security
threats and share valuable input. With the rise of smart phone use
across the globe, users can capture high-definition photos and videos.
In an emergency situation, data from citizens proves to be valuable in
gathering pieces of the puzzle to aid officials in effective response. A
centralized platform can be used to capture reports, photos, videos,
and other data, to then combine with existing information, to enhance
evidence collection and accelerate investigations.
An enhanced level of awareness also benefits city officials in areas
beyond security, such as traffic management. Cities face an incredible
number of threats that have the potential to impact daily operations,
including terrorism and crime, severe weather and more.
Throughout the city, existing traffic cameras are used with video
analytics for real-time data and forensic searches. Analytics can detect
and track car paths on video footage and alert officials to suspicious
movements or abnormal behavior. By setting pre-defined rules,
cities can extract valuable information about traffic and take appropriate
action; for example, diverting traffic based on congestion levels
or warning drivers of a traffic obstacle ahead.
Ultimately, situational awareness in Safe City applications is about
receiving incoming data, analyzing it, and turning it into actionable
information. Examining large data sets delivers a broad range of benefits,
allowing cities to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations,
risk trends, resident conversations, and other useful information.
Stakeholders can gain insights that help city officials anticipate,
respond, and quickly take action. With the amount and types of
structured and unstructured data rapidly growing, the process of understanding
how data affects ongoing security efforts is critical.
Safe and Smart Cities: The Big Picture
Intelligence drives today’s modern Safe City. Comprehensive analysis
of data allows operators to identify patterns and detect risks early.
Operators can pinpoint threats or suspicious activity, adding value to
the big picture, and gain valuable forensic evidence to aid in investigations
and prosecution. Cities experience stronger security operations,
optimized emergency management, improved security and a
stronger quality of life for area residents.
Overall, these efforts can contribute to improving safety and operational
efficiencies, as well as the public’s overall experience. Armed
with an advanced level of situational awareness, cities achieve several
important goals, including improved service to citizens and maximized
the quality of life.
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Security Today.