Building Safer Cities

Examining the top benefits for security in metropolitan areas

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 incidents.

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 operations.

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.

Innovative Detection Techniques

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.

Inter-Agency Collaboration

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.

Citizen Engagement

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 multi-dimensional response.

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.

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