Building a Smarter City by Building a Safer City – Safety in Smart City

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While governments around the world are focusing on making cities smarter, what’s often neglected is the safety behind all these technologies and innovation.  The essence of building a smart city is to increase the quality of life of the citizens in it.  

Therefore, safety, being one of the very basic needs of human being as proposed by Maslow’s in his model – Hierarchy of Needs, shall be the very first thing to think of when deploying any smart city project.  Also, when it comes to government’s projects, having a sustainable development and focusing on the long-term objective of the city should always be the single most important thing. 

We already see too many tragedies happened only because local governments are prioritizing productivity over the citizen’s quality of life.  This especially happened a lot in developing nations like India, China, and Indonesia.  Take Jakarta as an example where the city is literally sinking because of over population and rapid urbanization.   

That is why in this evermore populated and urbanized world we should always put safety first in developing any infrastructure project or deploying technologies to existing one. 

So, how exactly can we build a safer city?

To understand how, we first have to understand what we are working toward.  As a matter of fact, there are three distinct components of a safer and smarter city and each are interlinked among others.  Natural disaster prevention, urban crimes prevention, and planning and governance that connect all together.   

safety in smart city

A safer city that is resilient against natural disaster and is efficient & effective in post-disaster recovery

When it comes to natural disasters, giving the public as much warning as possible can enable citizens to take precautionary measure or evacuate if necessary.  Advances in satellites technology and IoT sensors drastically improve what is possible and if utilized well, city can even predict disaster long before it happens.  

Natural disaster comes in all shapes and sizes.  It could be the earthquake in Japan, Flooding in Jakarta, Typhoon in Philippines,  Dust storm in middle east and more.  Having a smart infrastructure that are resilient against these types of natural disaster are critical in developing infrastructure project.   

Also, being able to prevent lawlessness during the duration of natural disaster and having quick and effective post-disaster recovery are something smart city can achieve with a flying score as well. 

Environment tracking with IoT devices

Local government monitors metrics such as pollution levels, water runoff, sewage system overflow and more.  With even more advanced IoT devices, we are able to track more data points to further detect or even predict what’s happening behind the scenes.  

Japan have implemented early warning systems for earthquakes that can give residents time to evacuate and get to the safest nearby spot.  

We even see some new system that can connect to elevators through IoT so that it will stop immediately after it detects signal of disasters and open at the nearest floor so people are not trapped.  Not only that, with devices connected with each other, it can even send alerts to hospital operating rooms and shut down the flow of natural gas in pipelines to reduce the risks of explosion and fire.

To further protect the city from natural disasters,  getting these devices up and running after a disasters is critical mission as well.  Otherwise, crews or officers can’t be efficiently dispatched to areas that are more severe as the entire system monitors status of each area are not running in full capacity.

A integrated platform to share information among agencies

In order to better track natural disaster and reduce response time, cities are also developing system that will increase information sharing across agencies and neighboring jurisdiction.  Command centers with dashboard to visualize every part of the city can drastically help local government monitor situations, allocate resources, and coordinate multiple agencies.   It can also help operating center from resources being strained by thousands and thousands of emergency-calling as more parties are integrated and information is shared. 

City can also leverage social media to mine data on platforms and gain better insight as to what is going on and find what is the best possible solution to problems encountered.

Smart city in combating urban crime

While there are multiple component in building a safer city, anxiety about crime is perhaps the foremost issues for citizens.  That is, whether or not you feel safe walking down the street is probably the most important factor for most residents in determining safety of a city.  

City that deploy all ranges of technology can better prevent urban crime such as institutional crimes, violence, and social crimes and can even eliminate state crime by decentralized a lot of processes or make certain kinds of information transparent and available to the public.   

There are multiple technologies that could enhance a city’s safety like gun-shot detection, predictive policing, real-time crime mapping, and smart surveillance.  And according to MGI, if done right, smart city has the potential to reduce urban crime incidents by 30~40%.   

In a pilot project called Lamppost-as-a-Platform, Singapore government aim to equip surveillance camera with facial-recognition to all 110,000 lamp post in an attempt to perform crowd analytics in order to support anti-violence operation.