Collaboration Driving Safe City Economics
Collaboration is a large factor in the economics and development of safe cities. Shared technologies ranging from sensors and HD video surveillance networks to analytics and even smartphones are enabling law enforcement and other public agencies to gather and interpret greater quantities of data, then act more effectively, while the economic value generated by new vendor partnerships and public-private initiatives are creating enhanced ROI for all stakeholders.
“The safe city initiative is driving much closer collaboration between organizations overall,” says Steven Webb, Vice President, Aerospace, Defence and Security, Frost & Sullivan. “We’re moving from being reactive to being predictive, and we need to make sure that the data provided enables teams and resources to respond to any issues in a timely manner”
TECHNOLOGY A COLLABORATIVE DRIVER
Technology that can be collaboratively used by multiple stakeholders in both the public and private sectors is a major economic driver for safe cities. “It’s really technology that is allowing us to move to greater security,” says Webb. “In fact, with massive budget cuts and departments losing head count, the only way some of them can maintain the level of safety and security offered today is through technology.”
“With massive budget cuts and departments losing head count, the only way some of them can maintain the level of safety and security offered today is through technology.”
Webb points out that the role of collaborative technology becomes especially critical in larger cities, where vast populations and geographic areas provide greater opportunities for a terrorist to go unnoticed. “This means that the more cities are growing, the greater the role technology has to play in helping to manage the population and potential threats,” he states. This impacts not only residents, but also a city’s economic base as a generator of GDP. “Businesses are only going to move to specific cities if they are sure that safety exists. Those will invest in security to ensure that businesses feel it is the right environment. If a city can reduce crime, then that can be a big winner for everyone.”
COLLABORATION AND ROI
Webb believes that in a cash-strapped economy government departments need to be clear on the added value of safe city solutions. “Cooperation between police, fire, disaster management, transportation, other local authorities and the private sector is increasingly going to have a role in the development of safe cities”, he notes, yet the number of departments and stakeholders that exist within a city actually can be a restraint to smart city development, since they all have specific missions, priorities and budgets.
Providing clear ROI’s and ideally examples of live projects or working solutions will help demonstrate the benefits, and a true safe-city solution that entails a comprehensive deployment from the bottom-up needs to be driven from the top – by the mayor’s office.
“There are a number of organizations working hard to provide a live city dashboard by leveraging more and more data. Through this technology they can show a decrease of crime in certain areas, they can start to show threat levels decreasing, lower accident rates on the roads, etc. To be able to actually provide that data to a city mayor can be very valuable. City CFOs and CIOs need to be plugged in in order to drive and coordinate the process.”
“The problem a lot of organizations have with accelerating safe city development is trying to convince first responders and other stakeholders that the investment is worthwhile,” Webb says. “Quantifying that across multiple departments can be quite challenging, but we are seeing that there are a number of organizations working hard to provide a live city dashboard by leveraging more and more data. Through this technology they can show a decrease of crime in certain areas, they can start to show threat levels decreasing, lower accident rates on the roads, etc. To be able to actually provide that data to a city mayor can be very valuable. City CFOs and CIOs need to be plugged in in order to drive and coordinate the process.”
Webb suggests that the best way for organizations to demonstrate that safe city initiatives can add real value is through small pilot programs. “Show that you can reduce crime and mitigate risk in a small part of the city, then once that concept is proven, you’ve got the case to roll out citywide,” he says. “That’s precisely the approach taken in a major middle-eastern city for a project that will be announced shortly. The organization took the risk on themselves without any funding, rolled it out over 12 months, proved the concept, and this led to a huge deployment.”
ECOSYSTEM COLLABORATION ENRICHES THE MIX
As the safe city ecosystem develops, Frost & Sullivan also is observing new trends in the ways that solutions providers and integrators interact. Webb notes that organizations providing products and services for safe cities are continually evolving their offer to the market, forming new alliances and demonstrating solutions through live projects.
“Now organizations are determining where their strengths lie, and then partnering with others to provide a full solution. One example is Alcatel-Lucent’s partnership with CASSIDIAN – EADS, a large defense security company, to provide mobile broadband solution for emergency response and secure communications systems. That’s a good example of two organizations that have joined to provide a public safety solution.”
“We’re seeing a broad set of players – from defense and security integrators through to technology providers of security surveillance equipment and analytics or wireless, plus commercial building integrators – who are now collaborating to provide city-wide security systems,” he says. “These are organizations that traditionally didn’t compete and were in very different market niches. Now they are determining where their strengths lie, and then partnering with others to provide a full solution. One example is Alcatel-Lucent’s partnership with CASSIDIAN – EADS, a large defense security company, to provide mobile broadband solution for emergency response and secure communications systems. That’s a good example of two organizations that have joined to provide a public safety solution.”
Webb says that it’s up to technology providers and systems integrators to proactively push for safe city solutions by clearly demonstrating value and results, and again, that requires focused collaboration. “If they don’t proactively work with city departments to show the value, then in many cases those cities won’t evolve – they’ll continue to use their existing systems, or they may upgrade but won’t look at a city-wide deployment.”
Again, to ensure that all agencies can participate and benefit, you have to work at the mayor’s level. “Getting those departments to work together and then showing results in a smaller-scale deployment will provide the business case for a bigger solution. The city will understand the results, which they can convey to the electorate. That approach, combined with the dashboard, would be gold dust to the authority intent on implementing the solution.”
Webb believes that we’ll continue to see innovative uses of new technologies in safe cities. For example:
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be used not only in surveillance, but in disaster management and other tasks
- The trend toward intelligence and data mining will also strengthen further as cities increasingly understand the importance of moving from being reactive to proactive, and leveraging data.
- The adoption of Long-Term Evolution (LTE 4G wireless technology) on a city-wide basis will increase the number of IP cameras deployed and start the new era of safe city security.
- The Internet of Things (IoT), a vision that embraces different technologies such as M2M, sensor networks and RFID, will be another critical aspect of the future safe cities, as the information flow will allow the prediction of potential crimes and hazardous events throughout urban areas.
- Citizens will even contribute to the effort through their smart phones, which already have been engaged for enhanced crime reporting programs in Dallas, Los Angeles and other cities. “The capabilities of these phones means that you now have millions of private detectives in every country, and the technology links very well between the citizen and the city itself,” says Webb. “We potentially will be able to stream live footage of crimes taking place to local police, and again that will be a collaborative driver for safe city police forces.”
Overall, the value of safe city solutions will continue to rise, thanks to collaborative technology and partnerships. “Once we see several more deployments of safe cities, the whole ROI question will be answered more thoroughly,” Webb states. We’ll increasingly see local governments, city offices and first responders looking to collaborate more strongly, and part of that will be driven by the private sector.” The result: Complete situational awareness in which all stakeholders are able to communicate to identify, respond and mitigate threats that could adversely affect the safety of the city and its residents.
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