Building Safer Cities
Examining the top benefits for security in metropolitan areas
- By Alan Stoddard
- May 01, 2018
Safe City, or Smart City, projects
are rapidly becoming an
ideal way to build an effective
and proactive security strategy
while allowing increased
collaboration between city officials, security
leaders, law enforcement, and first responders.
Close partnerships between these parties enable
cities to efficiently identify current threats
while learning and analyzing data points to be
best prepared to address future risks.
Safe City initiatives help cities achieve
true situational awareness—both in regular
times and during emergency situations—by
aggregating a significant amount of data and
turning it into actionable intelligence. The
correlated information then enables officials
to quickly and efficiently identify threats,
manage emergency situations, and investigate
Citywide Data Analysis
Modern-day systems and sensors can span
large geographic areas, and the ability to
combine information from these once-siloed
technologies allows cities to realize new levels
of awareness while tapping into rich data
sources to help ensure safety and optimize
For example, operators can send a picture
of a suspect from the surveillance video in
high-risk areas directly to a patrol officer’s
mobile device, who can then easily access
the footage on his or her smart devices. Operators
can also leverage geospatial location
data to pinpoint the location of events and
deliver this data to local agencies to optimize
response and collaboration.
How is situational awareness obtained? It’s
through the combination of multiple processes,
solutions, and technologies, while aggregating
information from these sources to
gain the most accurate information available
about a situation at any given time.
Technology tools are a valuable component
of building high levels of awareness
and enhancing safety. Operators can leverage
security data to direct law enforcement
to potential high-risk situations, mitigating
the likelihood of potential violence in some
cases. Surveillance analytics allow law enforcement
and security officials to quickly
pinpoint when an individual breaches a
protected area and can also be used in postevent
analysis to determine trends.
Efficient Data Management
By correlating data streams from audio,
video, mapping, and other relevant systems
into a single solution, cities can gain valuable
information from captured data and ensure
higher levels of safety for its residents.
When combined, multiple data points can
establish trends and the possibility of further
threats and outline accurate identification of
suspects in various incidents. These solutions
can help law enforcement agencies take action
or investigate with higher efficiency and
effectiveness, and ensure the highest levels of
security are maintained.
Command centers need to quickly disseminate
communications to help responders and
citizens remain informed and aware. With
mobile communications, cities can promptly
and efficiently engage with the community,
often issuing announcements and warnings
via smart device applications.
Command-and-control centers can also interface
with law enforcement, using real-time
communications for efficient dispatch and distribution of information to guide forces in the field. The greater goal is
to maintain security and safety for areas residents and visitors.
When information is combined into one interface, video and other
data sources can easily be shared with other agencies as needed to orchestrate
an effective response. Additionally, built-in workflows help
ensure standard procedures are followed.
Various agencies can use data from some sources in both the public
and private sector—that is, individual citizen cameras—leaving
these public/private partnerships strengthened. This approach allows
city officials to share data with private businesses and vice versa to
coordinate security efforts appropriately and cost-effectively.
Debrief Events Effectively
Authorized personnel can monitor multiple radio channels or calls
from their desktops in real-time and playback contents in a matter of
seconds, helping to quickly confirm details and review conversations
that were difficult to understand.
By implementing replay of audio, video, text, screen data, telematics,
and related data on a single screen, security personnel can facilitate
effective debriefing and improve performance for future incidents.
Today’s cities are now using an integrated network of publicly and
privately owned surveillance networks to monitor events. But another
solution is critical: citizen engagement. The driving force behind every
Safe City initiative is its citizens. Each person is a walking sensor
that can report on threats, watch the public domain for shared risks,
and contribute valuable input via a multitude of “smart” devices.
With the rise of smartphone users across the globe, mobile
phone users can capture high-definition photos and videos to feed
to security officers. In an emergency situation, data from citizens
can prove to be valuable in helping mitigate risks and ensure a timely
and efficient response. A centralized solution can be used to capture
reports, photos, videos, and other data, to then combine with
existing security information, to help enhance evidence collection
and accelerate investigations.
Ultimately, situational awareness is about receiving incoming
data, analyzing it and turning it into actionable intelligence. Recent
terrorist attacks and active shooter incidents demonstrate the need
for advanced solutions and big data analysis to improve preparedness.
By building situational awareness into the overall security strategy
of a city, leaders are better able to manage incidents and identify
potential threats before they happen. Situational awareness solutions
allow cities to stay one step ahead and help security officials protect
their cities and its citizens. Here is a look at how one city is leveraging
technology to assure a safe environment for residents and visitors
while ensuring businesses can thrive.
A Safer City Through Collaboration
London’s Bond Street area is known throughout the world for its
wealth of elegant stores, exclusive brands, designer fashion, luxury
goods, and exquisite jewels. In recent years, the area was plagued by
“smash-and-grabs,” in which bike-mounted assailants ram into glass
windows and doors to steal high-value items before making a quick
exit. One attack on a London jeweler seized £20,000 of goods while
one on-foot robbery on a premium watch retailer amounted to a loss
of £400,000 of assets.
London’s Metropolitan Police wanted to ensure a safer environment
and made significant efforts to increase patrols and arrests in
the area. This effort led to a decline in the number of attacks but at
the same time, the value of stolen goods continued to rise. Leaders
were determined to increase security and allow for the safest environment
for visitors, businesses, and residents.
The Metropolitan Police developed the Police and Security (PAS)
project, a nationwide effort designed to bring police and private security
teams together to work collaboratively. It was also designed
to streamline communication between the two groups and ensured
private security contacts the right individuals within the police when
an incident occurs.
London officials also partnered with private companies to help
increase safety and reduce risk in this area. London-area security solution
provider, The Keyholding Co., developed the Safer Support
Team, a proactive patrol team and intelligence network dedicated to
helping prevent violent crimes on Bond Street and the surrounding
area. The idea was to help build stronger private-public partnerships
to better protect staff, property, and goods in target geographic areas.
The team worked closely with area law enforcement and first responders
to augment existing efforts and share intelligence with these
groups to enhance response.
The Safer Support Team brings additional personnel to monitor
the area, acting as a visual deterrent, gathering and sharing intelligence
to report incidents and respond rapidly. The patrol team
is highly trained and familiar with police procedures to aid in the
reduction of these security events while ensuring the safety of retail
employees, customers, and area guests.
To facilitate the exchange of information among multiple agencies,
The Keyholding Co. deployed intelligent communication and
emergency response technology from Verint. Dispatch Manager and
Mobile Reporter, part of the Situational Awareness Platform solutions
portfolio, are used to mitigate risk, ensure more intelligence
response, and enhance situational awareness. Dispatch Manager incorporates
emergency dispatch, helping reduce emergency response
time while improving end-to-end communications throughout an
incident. Mobile Reporter allows businesses, agencies, and local citizens
share information directly from their smart devices, enabling
Dispatch Manager unifies disparate command center technologies
and security staff by fusing critical data input from emergency
calls and responder activity to drive pinpoint response. Dispatchers
and responders combine live and historical event data with GIS
maps, responder positions, reporter inputs, and new sources, such
as weather, social media, cybersecurity, public safety databases, and
much more. This complete picture builds stronger insights that help
make responses more effective and efficient.
It also can coordinate directly with field responders and empowered
citizens with the deployment of Mobile Reporter. With Mobile
Reporter, a patrol officer’s location and status are correlated with
other situational data inputs. Dispatchers receive updates to a guard’s
geographic area, which is regularly updated on a map to keep dispatchers
informed of whereabouts and response actions.
With the use of these technologies and a robust video surveillance
network that incorporates standard IP and 360-degree cameras, the
Safer Support Team project has demonstrated significant success
since its inception. Police have used evidence captured by the team
to make arrests and the increase in patrols have served as a deterrent.
Overall, the initiative has helped reduce crime and make the Bond
Street area a safer place to visit.
As you can see, Safe City initiatives are one of the best ways to
build an efficient, executable security strategy. These projects incorporate
a broad network of sensors, processes, and systems that help
cities achieve new levels of situational awareness.
By aggregating large amounts of data and turning
it into valuable information, city officials are better
positioned to identify threats, manage emergency
situations and investigate incidents.
This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Security Today.