Smart City Revolution

Video technology is helping make cities and public buildings smarter and safer

The term “smart cities” has been a buzzword in the security market for several years now. Recently, the smart cities concept has become a reality in some cities and municipalities, and we are beginning to see the benefits of leveraging AI-enabled analytics to produce deeper insights to promote the safety and efficiency of the environment.

Smart buildings are essential building blocks within the complex smart city ecosystem as they contribute significantly to the sustainability of cities. Many governments’ visions of smart cities include not only making urban environments more sustainable, but also safer and more convenient for residents. Smart video technology, in tandem with video surveillance, is helping make cities and public buildings smarter, as well as safer. Both government authorities and private enterprises are benefiting from the latest technology trends and deploying smart video technology both easily and sustainably.

The Future of Video Surveillance in Public Transportation
Technology is already performing critical tasks in public transportation to improve operations and safety, helping automate routines and make it more efficient. AI video analytics are playing a key role in this, as smart cameras can do much more than just record and deliver video footage.

Smart railways and metro surveillance are combining smart cameras and AI video analytics to help operators and transit planners to systematically monitor and understand passengers’ behavior. This provides valuable insights from video data to optimize passenger flow and minimize security and safety risks automatically and in real time.

This same technology and application to cities and public buildings to help authorities, operators and planners to systematically monitor and understand urban life, improving mobility and infrastructure for long-term planning.

Improving Smart Traffic and Parking through Video Analytics
AI-enabled smart cameras have the potential to take security and traffic management in urban environments to the next level.

Traffic operators and planners worldwide are struggling with major challenges due to poor traffic planning based on little data. Millions of people waste valuable time every day in traffic jams and traffic causes too many deaths and injuries. Outdoor surveillance cameras equipped with AI video analytics help continuously monitor traffic, and detect and eliminate both situational and structural issues.

AI video analytics detect pedestrians at crosswalks and align traffic signal control with actual occupancy to promote overall safety. They also detect and remove traffic obstacles by identifying anomalies such as objects and people on the street and let smart cameras take automated action. Real-time situational awareness happens by adapting traffic control to density by continuously analyzing vehicle volume and behavior to automate the control of traffic lights and digital speed limits. Future data-driven planning improves by analysis of road layouts to gather valuable performance insights and vulnerabilities.

Smart parking management helps make better use of existing parking spaces using cutting-edge video technology. Parking shortages in cities primarily occur when parking is poorly managed and inefficient, or if there are more cars on the road than available parking slots. These analytics take existing camera technology a step further to not only identify occupied and free spaces in parking lots. This also will trigger actions within traffic control systems. Access management improves by recognizing vehicles, based on license plates or vehicle types. Overall, this produces insights through one surveillance camera system whereas multiple would have been required in the past.

Managing Safety and Security in Smart Buildings
AI video technology is making buildings and public spaces smarter and more versatile by enabling automated crowd counting, occupancy monitoring, crossline detection, and heat mapping for crowds. Informing employees will improve controlling digital information systems to respond quickly to critical events. Video data can also be analyzed statistically to improve operations and passenger services. Surveillance that required a complex computer system is now executed directly on a device.

Smart video technology detects the emergence of fire or smoke in buildings and outdoor areas and triggers alarms faster and more reliably than humans can. Fire is one of the foremost dangers for both the people and assets that populate these spaces. Therefore, the prevention or early detection of flames and smoke is crucial.

Suspicious and violent behavior is identified in large and complex buildings that offer more space for property damage and violence. Security staff often struggle to manage all areas at all times. Smart video technology comes into play to enable cameras to not only deliver video, but also analyze it and trigger actions themselves by detecting normal activity patterns and trigger an alert when behavior occurs that deviates significantly from ordinary activities, such as a fight, a person falling or lying on the ground, loitering or a burglary.

The Future of Smart Cities and Buildings
Smart video data enables smarter decision making, both in long term planning and in real-time control. Edge computing moves data analytics from servers to cameras, reducing infrastructure and data volume transferred. Infrastructure authorities, operators, and property owners are getting more out of surveillance cameras to drive the smart city revolution.

This article originally appeared in the September / October 2022 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Brent Jacot is the senior business development director at Azena.

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