Safer cities - thriving communities

Data is creating a mass of information, and if connected up intelligently it could improve safety and efficiency in communities. James Atkinson reports

Safer cities - thriving communities

The widespread use of smart mobile devices and machines is creating a data explosion. Peter Goulding, public safety specialist with Motorola Solutions, argued at a session at British APCO 2013 that making use of this data can make safer cities. 

But capturing the data is just the start. The information is there, but it is not joined up, noted Goulding. ‘Take transport,’ he said. ‘Transport for London operates both the London Underground and the buses, but empty buses leave Tube stations just as trains arrive because they do not know it is there. The transport system is not co-ordinated in a useful way for its citizens.’

He cited the case of a dementia patient who goes to A&E, but can’t explain about themselves. Social services or a charity might hold the relevant information, but that doesn’t get to the health services when they need it, as the data is not replicated.

‘To connect the city we need to collate the data that’s out there in different silos, analyse it and provide the relevant information to different organisations,’ said Goulding.

He argued that this will improve decision making in cities because it will:

deliver one real-time operational picture 

allow organisations to anticipate and forecast better, so they can be more proactive 

make organisations more effective by sharing information across different agencies.

Goulding said public safety organisations need to create real time intelligence centres and connected police officers using data enabled communication solutions to improve incident response.

Intelligent surveillance

Modern surveillance technology is of course a major help in keeping cities and their public safety organisations connected for both detection and identification purposes, as Dr Rustom Kanga, CEO, iOmniscient, explained to the B-APCO audience.

The key differentiator in iOmniscient’s technology is the intelligence added into the surveillance equipment to enhance detection and recognition rates.

Kanga noted that studies show that if a guard watches two monitors, after 10 minutes he will miss 45% of any unusual activity, dropping to 95% after 22 minutes.

iOmniscient video analysis software is designed to automate recognition of even quite subtle unusual behaviour. For example, it will alert a guard to a bag being left unattended. The detection times can be set to only activate an alarm if it is left for more than five minutes, say. 

Where the technology becomes highly sophisticated is that not only can it spot a black bag left on a black background, but it can jump back and show the person who left it, so no time is wasted searching the video.

It also has comprehensive recognition capabilities including multi-lingual licence plate recognition and face recognition in a crowd – this works even on standard security cameras.

The system gets about 70% accuracy in a crowd, but for security guards in a mall, having a system that can spot 7 out of 10 known shoplifters is a lot better than spotting none at all.

iOmniscient’s IQ-Hawk automated surveillance has the ability to undertake detection and recognition at the same time. Pan, tilt and zoom cameras can track multi–suspicious activity and then zoom in on each one for face recognition. Audio and smell analysis can be added too.

It also has an automated surveillance action platform (ASAP). The system detects a road accident, locates the nearest responder and sends information on the location, plus a video clip to the responder. This has been shown to reduce response times on average from 25 to 5 minutes – a critical factor when it comes to saving lives.

Goulding concluded by saying that both the data and technology are available, but the question is how to connect them so we move forward and start making cities safer.

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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