Last Tuesday, two coordinated explosions in Brussels left at least 34 people dead and over 200 injured. The fact that the attackers were able to hit high-profile targets in the country's capital - which happens to also host the European Union's top institutions - serves as a reminder that keeping cities safe is critical.
Cities and urban centers are hothouses for economic growth, innovation and cultural development. In Asia itself, most cities are developing rapidly, and safety plays a major part in attracting and securing investments, businesses, and skilled labor necessary for economic growth and development.
Unfortunately, their very success attracts wrongdoers, from petty crime to lethal terrorist attacks. As cities continue to grow in number, size, and complexity, their infrastructure and services come under increasing stress. Civic resources are under pressure and crime is harder than ever to police.
As it stands, most video surveillance technology is inefficient. Police investigations are often hampered by blind spots in video networks and low-quality imagery. Issues with data storage and retrieval mean incident data can be slow to reach command staff, and data loss can derail investigations altogether.
Recently we saw many ICT solution providers focusing on ‘smart city’ solutions, which make use of a web of inter-connected devices, software and cloud storage systems - namely IoT - to enable public and private services to work together more efficiently.
Are smart cities safe cities as well? In concept, I believe this same network of connected devices are also new tools for governments to improve public services such as crime-fighting. It can help law enforcement monitor public areas, analyze patterns, and track incidents and suspects, enabling quicker response. By combining information from video surveillance cameras, social media, citizen reports, and other sensors, the solution provides a richer view of urban safety.
Through my interviews with public sectors attending the Asia IoT Business Platform, governments are taking public safety very seriously.
To protect cities against crime, terrorism, and civil unrest, they are on the lookout for new technology that involves:
- Location monitoring - View live feeds of any surveillance camera to assess conditions; collect data on crime type and location; and monitor social media for possible threats.
- Incident detection and management - Use video feeds and analytics to verify and detect threats and incidents; alert operators to potential incidents; create incident records; and collect all data regarding the incident lifecycles.
- Administration and communications network - Easily configure and manage sensors, video infrastructure, and policy; deploy sensors in designated areas, set up regional and central intelligent command and control centers.
- Analytics - Report distribution of crime by frequency, location, etc., to aid in planning and to help predict crime patterns; identify areas with recurring issues.
We hope to urgently drive the message that public safety should not be taken for granted. Collaboration between all stakeholders are required to ensure that prevention measures are taken strictly to minimise further attacks on innocent cities. Please drop me a note if you think you have the right solution to enable safer cities - lets make the world a better place with the use of right technology.
My heart goes out to the victims of this terrible tragedy.