Alcatel-Lucent’s (News - Alert) LifeTalk e-zine recently focused on the desire that we all have to life in a safe city and the complexity involved in creating such an environment. There is no denying this is a multi-faceted challenge which includes not just issues of economics and education but also the need to address such concerns as physical security, convenience, freedom, privacy and transparency. In fact, city developers and managers in looking at the development and deployment of smart grids need to make the use of the capabilities of an associated next generation communications network as a key enabler of enhanced public safety.
One of the articles in LifeTalk, Citizen Engagement Critical for Safe City Success, explores how communications-enabled transparency needs to be a priority. It notes that the more transparency a safe city network can deliver, the safer citizens will feel. The bottom line is that if citizens are not just aware but are in the loop at every step of the process, their sense of safety and security increases.
“There are many ways in which these technologies will affect the way people behave,” João Barros, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Porto, Portugal, and also Founding Director of its Institute for Telecommunications, shared in the Alcatel-Lucent article. “The most fundamental ones have to do with the way city managers and the citizens they serve make decisions, and the relationship between the two.”The author further noted how thoughtful efforts can be utilized to ensure the comfort and confidence of data-intensive smart cities. When citizens are included in the planning process and full disclosure is assured through transparency, the ongoing development and operations are more readily supported. The more transparent the process and the system, the safer its citizens will feel.
Barros notes that people tend to get worried when they discover a sensor system is deployed, yet no one asked them for input, told them why, or educated them on what is involved or the type of information that will be collected. When people are consulted from the beginning, the deployment of the system is much smoother and more successful. Likewise, usability is key to acceptance as citizens are prepared for the future.
What does this future entail? According to Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert), it requires the shared technologies ranging from HD video to sensors to analytics and even smartphones, providing law enforcement and other agencies the opportunity to gather and interpret significant quantities of data and act effectively. To optimize this type of communication, while taking proper privacy precautions, it’s critical to implement an innovative gigabit fiber optic network, a Wi-Fi mesh network and utilize LTE wireless solutions. In fact, the reality is that a smart approach to leveraging a next generation communications network can actually increase public safety and the quality of life in a city while reducing costs.
The proof is in the execution
Chattanooga is one example of the progress toward a safe city. Part of the LifeTalk series includes an article, Chattanooga’s Safe City Orchestra. It highlights the city’s gigabit fiber optic and Wi-Fi mesh networks that have become powerful platforms for enhancing the efficiency of the city and public safety. These enhanced networking capabilities have enabled such things as HD surveillance and a smart streetlight system which will save the city $1 million each year. In addition, not just the perception but the reality of improved public safety is taking place as a result of police and fire departments enjoying superior response times, in addition to a range of other benefits.
Chattanooga plans to continue to leverage assets across multiple departments and missions to continue to drive savings across the board, while also creating a safe city for all. It is a city to keep an eye on for innovation and metrics for measuring success for any governmental entity looking to improve both safety and their citizens engagement.
Edited by Peter Bernstein