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Safe Cities: Technology and Market Trends

  • February 2014
  • -
  • Frost & Sullivan
  • -
  • 31 pages


Table of Contents

Data Analytics and 4G will Deliver Operational Efficiencies, Improved Situational Awareness, and Better Response


Government agencies are facing a growing and diverse range of threats and urban challenges driven by cross-border migration, improved criminal communication, cyber criminality, and the risk of terrorism. Whilst crime has decreased across many Western countries, the threat of large-scale attacks remains significant.
Cities are not only threatened by criminality and terrorism. Protecting the public from environmental threat means governments must promote integration and collaboration to encourage intelligence sharing and coordinated disaster response.
The following market insight considers how technology has evolved to provide greater situational awareness, faster response times, and enhanced decision making. Collaborative tools and shared networks permit greater multi-agency collaboration and operational efficiencies. These drivers are the key behind technology development.
This is the first of three Market Insights on Safe Cities. The second Market Insight will consider the competitive environment while the third and final one in the series will evaluate the market opportunity with a focus on city models, case studies, and demand for security solutions.

The Safe City

The trend towards the Safe City is related to not only crime detection and prevention but also mitigating the risk of disasters, be it from a natural event or the gathering of people at a mass event. Protecting the public and ensuring the perception of safety is paramount to the balance and growth of a city. The Safe City is primarily a technology-driven concept but also relies on good practice and public engagement strategies. Frost & Sullivan defines the Safe City according to five key and interconnected ideas.

The integration of interoperable systems across many industries, from oil & gas production to commercial building integration, is gathering pace. Operational efficiencies, cost savings, and improved business or operational information are invariably all cited as key drivers. In a Safe City, the integration of sensors and data, be it video surveillance or crowd sourcing, and the improved connectivity (speed and bandwidth) between devices, provides an improved common operating picture, enhancing situational awareness and decision making. This trend will continue to strengthen. Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) is often used as a term related to Integrated Systems but this is generally a terminology used for integrating video cameras and provides a more manageable set of data through Video Management Systems (VMS). Definitions of integration are changing. Initially, security integrators focused on networking a mix of surveillance cameras, analogue and IP, from different manufacturers. Now industry is promoting the integration of more sensors and data sources into one control centre under the banner of data fusion. Combining data collated from social media, deep web, video surveillance and other sources, including the streamlining of internal systems and databases, allows law enforcement to quickly retrieve intelligence to support live operations, daily operations, or investigative work.

In most cities there are multiple government agencies that work in silos. Cities recognise that this is ineffective and that greater collaboration, including sharing data and processes, can help cities function more effectively and save money. Some departments are naturally inclined to work closely together. For example, collaboration between transportation authorities and policing is often strong. Rail or metro systems carry large numbers of people around the city, creating both an opportunity for crime (theft, vandalism, fare dodging) and terrorism. It’s therefore logical that sharing surveillance systems, data, and processes is common between police and transportation authorities. It makes for better public safety. In addition, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) or congestion charging often use surveillance cameras to charge road users, ensure compliance, and manage road safety. Access to surveillance cameras can improve situational awareness and investigations for police departments. Cities focussed on smarter and safer solutions are increasingly looking to remove barriers to collaboration whilst the industry is focussed on providing the IT systems and tools to enable more effective communication and cooperation. Progress towards multi-agency collaboration will be slow. Although technology is able to facilitate it, bureaucracy, legal considerations, and the historical legacy will slow progress in many cities, not just the West.
Improving situational awareness remains a key technology driver. The city Command and Control (C2) demands greater awareness across the city - more coverage, greater visibility, and better information. Officers require information in the field. Developing the networks and capability to handle more data from a variety of media sources (voice, video, text, images) is an increasing customer requirement and challenge for the industry.

Generating more data is only part of the challenge for cities. Gaining insight from all of the intelligence is essential if data gathering is to be worthwhile. Safe Cities are increasingly using more sophisticated video and data analytics to extract valuable information from databases. Whilst analytics can greatly support investigative work, advanced analytics can provide officers with instant intelligence in the field. Using data to understand crime patterns and to make better decisions on where to deploy officers is not new. However, the amount and variety of data means that police departments can no longer rely on a manual process. Pulling together crime data and gaining insights into why and when crime might occur requires sophisticated modelling and analysis tools. This is the fourth pillar of a safe city.

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