Safer Cities

Smarter, safer cities enhance quality of life through intelligence and awareness

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.

Security Intelligence

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 mitigation efforts.

Streamlined Communication

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 command centers.

Citizen Engagement

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.

Traffic Management

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.

Actionable Intelligence

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.

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