How advances in technology contribute to safe cities

How advances in technology contribute to safe cities
The safe city concept has become increasingly widespread among municipalities around the world as they devote resources and efforts to creating a secure environment for residents. More and more, security technologies such as video surveillance combined with advanced analytics have played an important part in this regard.
 
That's among the key findings in the Safe Cities Index 2017 report released by The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by NEC. The report included rankings of 60 cities around the global in terms of overall safety, the top ten being Tokyo, Singapore, Osaka, Toronto, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Sydney, Stockholm, Hong Kong and Zurich.
 
Also, the report ranked the cities under four subcategories of security namely digital, health, infrastructure and personal. In terms of personal security, the top ten cities were Singapore, Wellington, Osaka, Tokyo, Toronto, Taipei, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Stockholm and Amsterdam.
 
The paper points out that video surveillance continues to be a powerful crime-prevention tool for many cities “When CCTV or webcams are matched with artificial intelligence technologies such as facial recognition, gait analysis and behavior detection, criminal behavior or unusual activity can be detected and reported as it happens, allowing cities to quickly deploy an emergency response,” it said. “In China, the police force is working with technology companies to develop these capabilities so that it can track the behavior and movements of individuals.”
 
The report further pointed out as a result of these new capabilities, as well as the growth of terrorist incidents and the rise of urban populations, the surveillance technology market is growing rapidly. Citing IHS Markit predictions, the report noted that in the professional market, shipments of HD CCTV cameras will increase to nearly 29 million units globally in 2017, up from fewer than 200,000 units in 2012.
 

Cybersecurity critical too

 
Cybersecurity is another important aspect of a safe city, as cyberattacks on transportation systems, for example, can cause service disruptions, congestion and other negative consequences. According to the study, in terms of digital security, the top ten cities were Tokyo, Singapore, Chicago, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Dallas.
 
The paper noted how cities deal with the issue of cybersecurity. “For some, the response to cyber threats has been to establish dedicated units within the police force, as is the case in Hong Kong, which ranks fifth in the digital security category of the index. In some cases, global events have prompted an increased investment in cyber security. In Japan, for example, the government is stepping up its efforts to counter cyber threats and protect critical infrastructure ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020,” it said.
 
In terms of health security, whereby the criteria of evaluation included accessibility to healthcare and availability of green space, the top ten were: Osaka, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Zurich, Seoul, Sydney, Brussels, Paris, Melbourne and Stockholm. Meanwhile, the responsibility to secure the safety of buildings, roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure is another vital component. The top ten cities in this regard were Singapore, Madrid, Barcelona, Stockholm, Wellington, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Sydney and Zurich.
 
The paper concludes that while municipal leaders must focus on a number of factors when investing in city security, many of them are linked. “For example, cyberattacks can disrupt systems such as the city’s power and water supply, making digital security critical to infrastructure security. The resilience and quality of such physical infrastructure, in turn, influence the prevalence of chronic conditions such as respiratory disease, as well as the level of traffic-related injury and mortality that takes place in the city, and thus health security,” it said. “Urban authorities, therefore, need to tackle city security using a holistic approach.”


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