How to increase safety and security with video analytics

The world is urban. According to the UN, almost 70 percent of people will live in cities by 2050. City leaders that want to deliver on the promise of UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 to «Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable» must make the city economic growth inclusive, the infrastructure more resilient, the mobility of people and goods more convenient, affordable, and environmentally sustainable, and, last but not least, their communities safe.

In fact, according to studies like the EIU Safe City Index, there is a virtuous cycle between economic growth that depends on a secure environment and higher income that makes it affordable for cities to make safety-increasing investments. Studies conducted across U.S. cities proved, for example, that cutting homicides by 10 percent increases housing values by 0.83 percent.

Increasing investment in public safety personnel can improve city safety; for instance, estimates indicate that an additional 10 to 17 officers hired prevented one new homicide per year and more officers and investigators can reduce the time that is required to solve a violent crime such as homicide. But cities and public safety authorities are always dealing with resource constraints. So, increasing the number of police officers is not affordable, or not enough. Cities need to improve productivity of the public safety officers that they have available. One of the keys to improve productivity is to invest in technology innovation to extract intelligent insights from data that empower city leaders to improve public safety policies, services, and operations.

According to INTERPOL, «data is at the heart of international policing. When the right data is in the right hands, it can give law enforcement a comprehensive global picture of crime trends to help them tackle emerging crimes more effectively.»

City safety globally is undergoing a process of digital reinvention, some facets of which have been further catalyzed by the impact of COVID-19. City leaders across the globe are working with police forces and other first respondents to realize the benefits of next-generation 911 systems, early warning systems, real-time crime centers, digital evidence management, digital forensic and intelligence, and data sharing platforms. For instance:

  • Data must not only be collected from CCTV cameras, radiation, chemical and gunshot detection sensors, 911 logs and fed into integrated command centers, but must also be analyzed with advanced AI algorithms to recognize people, objects and events, detect anomalies, and promptly alert command center operators. Cities and police forces that do not integrate multiple sources of data will have a siloed view of the risks. Those that do not apply advance analytics will overwhelm operators with visual information that is impossible to interpret, hence paralyzes their ability to respond to real emergencies.
  • Data sharing platforms are also providing investigators with digital evidence management and analysis capabilities to speed up forensic investigation and capture wanted criminals. Investigators that do not have access to easy-to-use archival, search, and analysis of evidence are slowed down by a backlog of cases and run higher risks of breaking chain of custody that must be auditable from ingestion to case closure.
  • Public safety authorities are also investing to deliver relevant information at the fingertip of officers in the field. Mobile policing gives officers access to portable command centers, investigative databases, and notification capabilities that provide real-time information on location of emergencies and suspect criminals, which increases operational efficiency, effectiveness, and officer safety.

Research and innovation to develop new automated systems for surveillance, such as drone fleets that can fly automatically, acquire data, detect and locate people, objects, hazards, events, and provide real-time reports along with suggested actions, such as the number of required police patrols, ambulances, or fire trucks to be mobilized, are continuing. Therefore, city public safety authorities must invest in advanced analytical and AI capabilities that enable them to interpret the data that they have today to promptly capture criminals, and easily integrate and interpret new sources of data in the near future.

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