It’s no secret that technology has become increasingly prevalent in everyday life. While many tech innovations make life more entertaining, recent advances allow smart cities to become safer.
Consider emerging 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI). These revolutionary technologies have various applications, especially in an urban environment. City leaders understand that citizen safety is a top priority. As more cities leverage advanced technologies, how is safety impacted?
1. Preventive Policing
Using predictive models fueled by big data and data analytics, police forces can identify areas where crime is likely to happen and then dispatch officers to those locations to dissuade potential criminals. Leveraging the latest AI and machine learning (ML) technologies can give police officers the upper hand in preventing crime.
However, racial profiling and discrimination issues have cropped up – are AI and ML algorithms trustworthy and accurate? Regardless, expect data to play a significant role in how police forces deter and manage crime in their respective cities.
2. More Efficient Policing
With intuitive call systems in place, police forces can prioritize phone calls, group them based on a single incident, identify a caller’s language, and find the optimal route for dispatch based on the type of emergency.
Additionally, these systems can provide human-like AI chatbot responses to non-emergency calls. Streamlining officers’ administrative tasks will allow them to do what they do best: go out into the community and respond to public safety threats.
3. New and Improved 911 Systems
Next-generation 911 (NG911) services improve the quality and flow of data police forces use to monitor a city. Suppose a homeowner is experiencing a chimney fire? In that case, they can send photos or videos that provide officers with crucial information, such as whether it’s a slow-burning or fast-burning fire.
Modernizing the country’s 911 system is an ongoing infrastructure project that states took on over two decades ago. South Dakota is one of the latest states to adopt an NG911 design, and its implementation only took eight months.
4. Leveraging Witness Information
Police have been trying out ways to leverage witnesses’ information by creating apps and notification systems that allow witnesses to send information, photos, or videos to assist the police in a crime.
For example, smart cities can use Citizen – a smartphone application that alerts citizens to 911 updates, provides instant help from first responders, and connects people to family and friends.
5. Creating an Efficient Workforce
Automating various manual tasks throughout cities by implementing mobile devices, sensors and robots has freed city employees to focus on more impactful work and actions.
Essentially, smart cities are reshaping the future of work by focusing on employee well-being and allowing workers to achieve high productivity levels. Many of the technologies used to power a smart city can be implemented in the workplace, making workforces safer.
6. Improved Public Transportation Systems
A smart city public transportation system makes traveling more efficient and safer for city-dwellers. Knowing exactly where and when transportation will arrive decreases the vulnerabilities of riders waiting for transit, especially at bus stops or subway stations.
The New York City subway system partnered with Transit Wireless, a 5G and smart cities industry leader, to focus on connectivity, safety, and rider satisfaction – three characteristics every smart transit system should possess.
7. Conserving Utilities
When smart cities save on utilities, these funds can support programs that tackle homelessness, crime, and other initiatives that improve the quality of life for citizens, such as green building development. Experts suggest that living in an urban environment can lead to chronic stress, environmental health issues, and restricted physical activity.
Additionally, smart cities rely on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy. Global electricity demand is estimated to grow 4% in 2022. Now is the time for smart cities to adopt and rely on renewable energy.
8. Powerful Partnerships
City law enforcement agencies worldwide have developed cloud platforms that share security camera footage in real-time. They partner with local businesses like restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies to gain access to their CCTV footage.
One major objective of a smart city is to harness the power of real-time data and monitoring. An analytic CCTV system can send alerts to law enforcement agencies when it detects criminal activity.
9. Reduced Air Pollution
New technology and sensors are being placed in cities all over the world. These technologies allow health officials to access the data necessary to create and develop action items for the city to implement.
For example, air pollution is a major issue many cities suffer from. AI monitoring platforms can predict areas with poor air quality, allowing city leaders to reduce traffic or output from factories in said areas.
10. Optimized Traffic Flow
With intelligent traffic signals, cities can gain valuable insights into the flow of traffic. For example, smart cities may be able to monitor traffic and take action to reduce congestion in certain areas during rush hour.
There are many negative effects of traffic congestion, including:
- Delays while driving
- Inability to make travel time estimates
- Increase in fuel consumption
- More GHG emissions on the road
- Prevents emergency services from responding efficiently
For the 10 reasons listed above, it’s clear that a smart city offers more safety benefits than a traditional, unconnected city.
Leveraging Smart City Technology to Improve Citizen Safety
Cities making data-driven decisions, adopting new technologies, and investing in a connected lifestyle can reap long-term and short-term benefits. As smart cities become increasingly interconnected, they’ll also become safer. It will be fascinating to see how smart city technology increases citizen safety in the upcoming years.
Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co.