Using New ICT to Create Sustainable Safe Cities
The Safe City initiative is a key pillar of urbanization projects worldwide. It addresses the need for local administrators to provide a safe and secure community for people and businesses residing in the city 24×7.
According to the United Nations report “World Urbanization Prospects, 2014 revision”, country populations are gravitating towards urban centers, and it predicts that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be urban. Asia, which is largely rural today despite being home to 53% of the world’s urban population, will itself be 64% urbanized by 2050.
Shikhar Aggarwal, Consulting Director for Asia Pacific at Frost & Sullivan, notes that constant urbanization is creating issues with public safety.
Urban safety affects all of a nation’s population. Not just city dwellers, but the country as a whole.
“The main drivers that influence Safe City projects are strong city economies, safety and security threats, Internet protocol, natural disasters, improved private and public partnership, and co-operation of a common security threats. The restraints that we have identified are economic crises, budget cuts, legacy systems, and governmental changes,” added Aggarwal.
While residents prefer to choose cities that offer safe environments to build their lives, a safe city also attracts foreign investment and businesses. Safety directly impacts a country’s GDP.
Aggarwal concedes that the threats are extremely difficult to contain, and this problem is driving technological advancement.
This is the drive fueling the Safe City concept and Huawei’s Safe City ambitions. Many governments and city administrators are looking to improve their overall security as well as their ability to respond to emergencies.
“Civil unrest is prevalent in many parts of the world. Urbanization of society has seen a lot of people moving into the city, creating more issues for the city administrators to tackle. That is the reason why many are focusing on Safe City,” said Joe So, Chief Technology Officer, Industry Solutions, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.
With lives at stake, such improvements are welcomed by increasingly mobile consumers and investors who count safety and security as key reasons for settling down in a location.
Safe City Principles are the Same
Every city faces different safety issues. A city in the Middle East will have very different views on security compared to those of Hong Kong. Nevertheless, Huawei’s So sees all Safe City efforts as built around two key principles: convergence and visualization. Unfortunately, these also happen to be issues of significant challenge.
For many governments, the first response units (such as police, fire department, and ambulances) work in silos. Collaboration is not possible based on such siloed systems, according to sources familiar with the Safe City project.
Huawei, through its Leading New ICT initiatives, is looking to use convergence to build a collaboration system across all units. For example, a computer-aided dispatching system allows different parties to work together and address an emergency or incident more effectively.
Visualization adds another dimension to Safe City solutions. It goes beyond current technologies that are often based on other technology limited to only voice transmission.
“The Huawei solution includes video to enable better collaboration in real time. Visualization means they can see exactly what is happening using eLTE technology. After all, seeing is believing!” he added.
By allowing video and images to be shared from anywhere, police can, for example, identify suspects and collect evidence. A command center can then use the information to deploy emergency units based on visual evidence. The information can also be quickly shared with experts to determine the cause, for example whether there is a chemical fire or an electrical one.
Transitioning to Leading New ICT
Huawei understands that for Leading New ICT to work, it needs to integrate with current systems and even re-use existing solutions.
To do so, Huawei made its systems 100% open and actively participates in open standard committees and organizations around the world. Huawei has released an eSDK to enable different applications to work with our over 3,000 APIs, so developers can write applications that can be hosted on our platform.
Huawei is also building a strong ecosystem around its Leading New ICT platform. It understands that no one vendor can offer all the answers to a Safe City initiative. It is working with partners to develop specific solutions unique to each city and country using its “Being Integrated” strategy.
“We do not talk just technical requirements to security organizations; we offer a business proposal and tangible benefits with Safe City. There should also be a commercial model. Once the safe city is built it is easier to deal with crime or security concerns. The actions (like fines and penalties) can then be used to fund the operation. On a bigger scale, a Safe City will attract more foreign investors and tourists to the country, and contribute to the overall GDP,” said So.
Huawei noted that deploying the infrastructure is not difficult. Many of the components are already there. The concern is how they can be effectively used by different departments in an integrated fashion.
Most of the first responders, for instance, work manually. Changing to a completely automated system can impact their usual behavior and daily operations. Addressing this operational concern is a big challenge, and requires training as most people are used to old ways of working.
Cities should not jump onto the safe city bandwagon and deploy a city-wide Safe City solution.
Safe City to Smart City
In a Frost & Sullivan survey of 49 government agencies (city governance and first responders) and systems integrators, the growth of integration technologies was seen as the strongest future trend and was supported strongly by both supplier and customer. “Heavy investment in infrastructure, new buildings, and significant upgrade of communication networks in Asian cities will offer the largest opportunities,” said Aggarwal.
With Leading New ICT, Huawei is taking a long view. It sees it as a component of Smart City initiatives being rolled out in many countries across the globe.
Many countries are looking for Safe City solutions. It is a good business opportunity for Huawei to participate in. In fact, as Huawei builds Safe City solutions, it assists local governments in extending existing infrastructures and integrates these to become part of the Smart City solution.
As urban development continues, citizen and resident expectations are on the rise. And as crime becomes sophisticated, the demand for smarter ways to enable security and resolution will become even more important.
“In the past, a call center for the police was sufficient. Today, you need a more intelligent command center that brings together different organizations to aid in resolving a particular situation. It’s not a wish, it is a necessity,” said So.
Urban safety is set to become even more critical over time. Security and public safety is addressing a wide and evolving range of risks. To conclude, Leading New ICT is the vision of Huawei Enterprise Business Group. It relates to an open platform and ecosystem where developers can benefit by building their innovations using new ICT technologies. The innovations in Safe Cities, Banking, and Energy in these four articles are just examples, and these innovations will go beyond to our imaginations in the new ICT era.