Paving Safer Roads
Leveraging new innovations to improve the quality of life
- By Rich LeCates
- Apr 01, 2019
In U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Places to Live” list, 30 percent
of the ranking system is allocated toward quality of life,
which includes factors such as commuter index and crime rates.
Though traffic and crime are not the only contributing factors
that determine a location’s desirability, they are some of the top
catalysts that inspire digital transformation within a city.
Why? Traffic and crime are more likely to affect citizens’ day-today
lives than others. They also offer ample opportunities for leveraging
new innovations that improve quality of life, especially when a
broad topic like crime management is broken down into specific incidents,
such as active shooter, false alarms, the safety of emergency
response teams and seamless record sharing between agencies.
When taking a closer look at traffic and crime management, it
becomes clear that a local government that utilizes a technology platform
equipped with cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and
data science can help maintain order, increase safety and eventually
lead to a safer, more desirable place to live.
Maintaining traffic order and streamlining commutes. Let’s start
with a pain point that everyone, especially those in larger cities, has
experienced: the daily commute. How often do you find yourself sitting
for what seems like an eternity at a red light? Or, arriving to work late
because of overwhelming congestion on the road? Often, these “minor”
issues are overlooked for more serious matters, but it’s these little
difficulties that can drastically affect a city’s perceived quality of life.
Luckily, some city officials have started installing automated, AI
light management to better account for shifting traffic volumes. Officers
can review camera and radar data to gauge flow, volume and
backup at priority intersections, and even adjust light systems for the
time of day and varying seasons.
Automated traffic systems also reduce congestion through realtime
notification. These same connected cameras and radar sensors
feed traffic trends into a centralized database, which aggregates
and transmits information to drivers’ phones and navigation
devices. Drivers can then avoid crowded streets, reducing volume at
Of course, while it is nice to know that there is an answer to frustrating
city commutes, traffic is not the most serious of issues that
must be solved with a smart technology platform. Crime management
is an ongoing concern and something that must always be evaluated
in order to prevent tragedies, like mass shootings, from occurring.
Improving active shooter response and mitigation. According to the
Gun Violence Archive, 2018 saw more than 300 mass-shooting incidents
in the United States by October. Data compiled from the National
Safety Council, National Center for Health Statistics, and scholars
from the Cato Institute and Tulane University show that Americans
are more likely to die from mass shootings than from catastrophic
natural disasters. And, 11,000 people in the United States are killed
in firearm assaults each year, with most incidents occurring on school
campuses and in public places, such as bars, restaurants and stores.
Unfortunately, each public setting where these tragedies occur
presents unique challenges for law enforcement and first responders.
Schools, for instance, are challenged with security issues that come
with more wide-spread campus environments. Campus borders are
increasingly overlapping with neighboring communities, blurring the
lines between campus and city jurisdictions, which directly effects
first responder deployment.
Just like students, teachers and safety officials at schools have a
heightened awareness of active shooters due to recent events, average
citizens frequenting public places such as bars, restaurants and movie
theaters are beginning to share the same awareness, as we’re learning
that these places are just as common for mass shootings. In addition,
these environments are full of sounds and distractions that interfere
with the ability to evaluate unusual sightings and behavior. These
challenges, combined with underperforming technology, obstruct law
enforcement and first responder emergency support.
When gunfire breaks out, every second makes a difference in
controlling the situation and saving lives. Valuable time is lost when
responders have to wait for a person on scene to call and report the
incident before they are able to process the information and dispatch
officers. This is why active shooter technology has become so valuable
to the effectiveness of public safety.
In fact, a number of schools have led the charge by implementing
facility-wide gunshot detection sensor technologies with integrated
911 call automation. Should gunfire occur, these sensors use acoustic
and infrared technologies to identify and distinguish the shot, and
even immediately trigger a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) response
call. In addition, this technology offers valuable, situational
information, such as location and frequency of detected gunshots,
enabling smarter and faster entry.
Being responsive during an emergency saves lives. But what if,
like mentioned above, emergency personnel are busy responding to
false alarms? False alarm management is as much a concern as active
crime management since responding to false alarms takes just as
much time and manpower as responding to real threats.
Preserving resources with enhanced false alarm management.
Across hundreds of communities, high numbers of non-emergency
alarm-related calls are diverting limited resources away from true
emergencies. Fifteen percent of all calls for law enforcement services
nationwide are alarm-related. Of those, more than 90 percent are
False alarms cost millions of dollars in wasted resources, including
valuable 911 staff, emergency communication systems and
responders. However, more cities are beginning to implement false
alarm technology that can use data science capabilities to gauge the
likelihood of a harmless incident and communicate more intelligently
with on-site detectors, as well as dispatchers and first responders.
The best false alarm solutions use multilevel strategies to reduce
unnecessary alarms, saving both time and money. With advanced
false alarm technology, dispatchers and responders are equipped with
up-to-date information, including alarm incident data, permit status,
alarm system contacts and site hazards. This technology is also CAD
compatible and can identify registered and unregistered systems.
In the unfortunate event an alarm is real, smart technology can
elevate citizen protection, in addition to providing an extra layer of
intelligent defense for responders.
Safeguarding emergency response teams. Every day, public safety
officials and other first responders are tasked with diffusing, analyzing
and leading recovery following hazardous incidents. According to
the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 144 police
officers were killed in the line of duty in 2018 alone. Another study
by IACP and the Bureau of Justice Assistance found that, over the
course of one year, a total of 1,295 officer injuries were reported.
Those reported injuries resulted in 5,938 missed days of work, with
an average of four and a half days missed per incident and an average
rehabilitation period of three and a half days.
With such high-stress situations and potential dangers lurking behind
every call, responders must be at their best upon arrival. And,
being at their best can only happen when they’re able to show up
equipped with knowledge of the situation. Smart technology that enables
cloud connectivity through IoT and supports interoperability
keeps responders informed and prepared for almost any situation.
Dispatch teams and field officials can communicate more effectively
to ensure that first responders do not enter any situation blindly.
For example, responders can access information about a particular
location or suspect that may pose certain threats upon arrival.
They also can identify factors that may delay their arrival, such as
an accident. They can even identify locations of the nearest backup.
In addition, non-field officers and dispatchers can track devices to
gauge if an officer is in a high-speed chase, has fired a weapon, or has
gone silent and may require backup.
Using smart technology to yield safer results. Smart cities powered
by innovative technology platforms make more informed decisions,
deploy resources more efficiently and position themselves as
safe, thriving and attractive places to live. And, by focusing on solving
citizens’ greatest pain points first, such as traffic and crime rates,
city officials can implement these platforms in order to take proactive
measures to create and maintain better environments.
After all, it should be every city’s goal to establish a sense of pride
among its citizens; to create the ultimate citizen experience; to inspire
its residents to feel the same loyalty to their home as they do
to their favorite brand. Embracing a technology platform equipped
with cloud computing, artificial intelligence and
data science not only helps to facilitate traffic and
crime management, but also to promote a location
as an ideal place to live.
This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Security Today.