Intelligent Design for Safe Cities
There are many ways to look at a safe city. In fact, even defining such a place is a function of a diverse set of challenges and solutions that need to be considered in total.
“You have to look at this concept in the context of a particular city, its environment and its needs,” says Gaspar Viega, Alcatel-Lucent’s Senior Director, Public Safety & State/Local Government, Strategic Industries-Public Sector. “If you think about safety only in terms of reducing crime, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the city will be kept safe. For example, you can look at casualties from poor traffic management and auto accidents. It’s also about the level of pollution in a city, traffic safety or even the limits of the deployment itself. This is how a safe city should be analyzed.”
SAFETY, MOBILITY AND ENVIRONMENT
Veiga believes that the challenge to become a safe city can be boiled down to three questions: How do we reduce crime? How do we promote mobility? How do we create a better environment for safety and quality of life? “At the outset of any project the city needs to define the goal for better quality of life and at the same time determine how they can drive the effectiveness services,” he says. “From there they have to find the right balance of environment and mobility. Without that right balance you cannot achieve the safety.
For many urban areas mobility can be the most enabling factor, addressing how the city provides good transportation, reduces road construction, offers guidance on the best routes to take while traveling, promotes the use of public transportation to mitigate problems of pollution, and enables mobile communications systems among law enforcement in order protect the public from crime.
Reducing operational costs is a large driver in these efforts. Another is stimulating the economy and making the city attractive for current residents and businesses, thereby attracting new business as well. “It also is about protecting people and resources, maintaining the roads and keeping traffic flowing smoothly,” says Veiga. “When you calculate the cost of vehicles sitting in traffic, it represents around three percent of the GDP. That is a large number, and represents money that can be put to better uses elsewhere. All of these factors combine to increase efficiencies, save money and make the city safer on all levels.”
AN INCREASING IMPERATIVE FOR SAFETY
The need for technology enabled safe cities is becoming ever more imperative. In decade since 9/11 we have seen a general the rise in terrorist threats and actions, such as the sarin nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway and the commuter train attacks in Madrid. At the same time, studies published by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) show that more than 50 percent of the worldwide population now lives in urban areas, and the migration continues.
“Cities need to be ready to better address this generational change through smart city and safe city technology.”
“By 2020 we’ll have five billion people living in cities,” Veiga notes. “It is the first time in history that we have more people living in the cities than in the country, with the increase of urbanization and population growth causing new security threats and operational challenges. This is compounded by the fact that older cities are not evolving as fast as the newer ones in terms of technology to address new issues, especially in terms of safety.”
OECD studies also show that populations are ageing to the extent that the support of people assumed to be retired – those over 65 years of age – by those who are assumed to be working will halve by 2020. “Cities need to be ready to better address this generational change through smart city and safe city technology” says Veiga.
MAKING THE BUSINESS CASE WITH LEADERSHIP
Of course, every initiative has its challenges. Veiga says that a central obstacle to getting a safe city project off the ground can often be a lack of leadership. “You need someone with the publicly endorsed agenda and political power to push and support safe city investment,” he notes. “If you don’t have strong leadership you cannot bring a project such as this forward.”
“Without the collaboration of all stakeholders – including citizens of the cities because their voices are essential – then you wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Collaboration is essential to any project, and that also speaks to leadership. “Without the collaboration of all stakeholders – and I include citizens of the cities because their voices are participation are essential – then you wouldn’t be able to do it,” Vega states. “You want the role of leadership to be a real willingness to bring people together, and to execute the vision and the strategy for making it happen. You need to discuss the problem, define the vision and align the strategy to the vision. If you do that, you will have better success and impact on the city, providing a better quality of life.”
Making the business case is also essential to launching any project and obtaining buy-in from all stakeholders. “These types of projects are long-term investments, and if you don’t analyze them correctly the impact on the safety and security of the city can be unprecedented,” Veiga says. “You may say ‘I want to reduce stops by 40 percent, reduce travel time by 25 percent, reduce gas consumption by 10 percent, drop CO2 emission by 20 percent and reduce accident rate by 20 percent.’ If you put these all together and do the accurate analysis, you will come up with overall savings of 15 percent and the city is directing money back to where it is really needed,”
“We have many projects around the world, with Chattanooga being a real showcase,” Veiga adds. They had the telecommunications infrastructure in place, but they needed to address the two other drivers of pollution and crime to create a better, safer sustainable city. It’s not enough just to be safer and better; you need to be sustainable at all levels.”
The heart of the smart solution is composed of Alcatel-Lucent’s reliable and secure infrastructure that ensures real-time exchange of information, while giving priority to some type of content (e.g. security information should not be delayed by transfer of non-critical data). Greater efficiency is gained through the creation of Dynamic Communications Network, an all-IP communications infrastructure that creates a convergent network among buildings and IT systems, seamlessly integrating wireless and wireline technologies.
A TRUSTED PARTNERSHIP IS CRITICAL TO SUCCESS
Given the critical factors at play, Veiga believes it essential that safe city managers align with a trusted partner who can supply them with a total package of consulting, implementation and management of the network and all of the solutions. “One of the largest challenges is not the technology itself, but how you integrate all of it. These applications are very complicated, encompassing multiple technologies, multiple vendors and integrations,” he states. “If you don’t have all of those skills, the chance that the project will be successful will be diminished. If something is mission or not aligned correctly, it can be disastrous, with lives literally at stake.”
“One of the largest challenges is not the technology itself, but how you integrate all of it. These applications are very complicated, encompassing multiple technologies, multiple vendors and integrations.”.
Alcatel-Lucent has defined different solutions to address the city’s environment and safety — implementations to work on all types of networks, both wired (fiber) and wireless (i.e.: LTE). “The Alcatel-Lucent protected city solution enables full interoperability, allowing state and local governments and interior ministries to optimize public safety operations to protect people and resources, gather and access judicial evidence in case of a major incident, reduce misconducts and degradation, and enhance the security comfort of citizens and visitors,” Veiga states.
“For instance, our Urban Traffic Management (UTM) solution uses real-time data to reduce the level of congestion and improve traffic enforcement, while our Intelligent Time Travel System (ITTS) developed by Bell Labs uses new algorithms at the forefront of artificial intelligence to predict the traffic flow, increasing safety while saving the city money.”
READY FOR TOMORROW
Veiga believes that tomorrow’s cities will be fully connected. “They will have a command and control center where all data will be sent. Intelligent sensors in bridges and buildings will instantly warn of earthquakes or structural problems and reroute traffic. Business intelligence tools and the semantic web will anticipate events and mitigate risks, from earthquakes to criminal acts and other problems generated by human activity.”
In tomorrow’s world, ensuring that this all works – supporting the ultimate role of safe cities to ensure better quality of life, effectiveness and protection of the environment – will depend on the intelligent design of the network and the smart solutions that run on top of it.
“We are always thinking about real-time information and full interoperability that will become the standard.”
“Alcatel-Lucent’s view is that we must realize the potential of the connected society by improving the quality of life of citizens and the capabilities of the always on first responder, aiming to improve situational awareness and collaboration among all agencies,” Veiga says. “The critical nature of the mission makes an IP/MPLS network with both wired and wireless resources all the more important, giving stakeholders a plethora of valuable solutions and applications. The network should be designed in such a way so that all of the solutions you wish to plug in will be fully integrated and effective. We are always thinking about real-time information and full interoperability, and that will become the standard.”
Alcatel-Lucent partners with Smart Cities stakeholders to design complete and end-to-end safe city solutions, based on open standards and multi-vendor products, to assure the seamless integration of different sub-systems over a single telecommunications infrastructure. Alcatel-Lucent takes responsibility for this end-to-end integration.
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