The Digital Year

Smart cities already on the rise following a hectic pandemic year

Last year, global citizens experienced dramatic shifts to working from home in response to COVID-19 safety recommendations, with communication, technology and security companies supporting changing business and consumer needs with new products, services and data security tools. At the start of 2021, McKinsey & Company offers up “While a tumultuous and tragic 2020 will usher in a 2021 fraught with uncertainty, one thing is crystal clear: it will be a distinctly digital year .”

Smart cities were already on the rise at the start of the 21st century, with governments and institutions putting data to work to improve the lives of residents and workforces. From artificial intelligence-backed emergency response operations to traffic management solutions and tracking carbon emissions, technology is helping city’s improve lives.

Combined with rising smartphone use worldwide, advances in AI technology used to track and analyze large data sets and lowering costs for implementing smart city solutions, the way cities use technology to improve health and safety is set for huge advancements this year. As security professionals look to respond to growing threats worldwide, mobility and connectivity are at the heart of improved security efforts.

SMART CITY SECURITY: MOBILITY, CONNECTION AND AI

More than 66% of the world’s population is projected to live in cities by 2050. As populations grow, mobile technology solutions that support and connect law enforcement staff are growing in importance. That is why a central component to implementing cost effective smart city solutions is a strong digital network. As police budgets and resources stretch, a greater reliance on technologies that help security staff share, collect, store and use data to respond to threats quickly and efficiently is also needed.

According to Gerhard Schaub, president of the Police Officers Association in Zurich, Switzerland, “Police work is turning out to become increasingly digitized, and the way we worked 40 years ago is not an efficient way to ensure the security of a city. Police need access to systems that are designed to be used across borders to more effectively fight crime.”

As the amount of data cities and people collect daily grows, a reliance on artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to collect, monitor and understand that data is essential. Independent and disconnected security solutions no longer offer the tools security professionals need. For example, a security camera that doesn’t also analyze the footage and alert officers when something important is recorded, just adds more work to an officers’ busy schedule.

AI serves as the backbone of smart city solutions, from identifying environmental patterns to improving transportation infrastructure. With new mobile technology solutions collecting more information than ever before and cloud storage solutions offering cost effective ways to store and share data, AI-backed tools are helping cities better understand and use that data. Across the globe, cities are incorporating machine learning, data analytics, visualization, and smart connected technologies to develop realtime, dynamic systems that learn and self-regulate.

Ekin’s smart city security solutions use AI-backed data collection and analysis tools to simplify implementation and use by law enforcement. The company’s Red Eagle operating system connects mobile devices, data capture and analysis, and reporting tools to streamline citywide security, from traffic management to surveillance cameras, with centralized management and communication across systems. For example, it allows law enforcement agencies and teams to compare footage from devices across the city using multiple devices and from different locations.

Using mobile and fixed facial recognition tools, automatic license plate readers (ALPR) and speed enforcement technology, the Red Eagle system alerts partner police department and law enforcement agencies when a tracked vehicle is located using push notifications and collaborative communication tools. The system is designed to easily share information across law enforcement agencies, with features such as note attachments which makes it easy to provide evidence for retroactive investigations and data sharing.

TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT AND SMART CITIES

Smart city technologies offer affordable, long-term solutions for traffic management, including optimizing infrastructure, reducing congestion, improving air quality by reducing carbon emissions and lowering traffic accident rates. That’s why traffic management continues to serve as a central component to smart city development and the technology that supports it will continue to dominate the future of the industry.

Law enforcement agencies tasked with managing traffic flow and both driver and pedestrian safety are seeking more proactive solutions that help prevent congestion and accidents before they happen. For example, ALPR technology helps reduce the time to identify violators who disrupt the flow of traffic. When it is combined with mobile security solutions that offer citywide connectivity, law enforcement professionals gain the ability to not only detect a violation but also quickly and efficiently respond.

ALPR and speed detection technology dominate the field when it comes to smart traffic solutions. However, cities have varying levels and needs with respect to smart traffic management solutions, so delivering solutions that are customizable and work within a city’s current model are necessary. And training is needed as new solutions are implemented, to ensure they are used to the maximum benefit.

This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Security Today.

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