Progressive South African municipalities maximise existing resources for safe and secure cities

20 Apr, 2016
Carel Coetzee, CEO of XON

Many municipalities have already invested in communications infrastructure and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to promote public safety and security, such as CCTV cameras and other video surveillance feeds. They have also, for example, global positioning system (GPS) capabilities in radios carried by emergency services personnel as well as the numerous vehicles they operate.

They could be using the data provided by those devices already in the field and connected via their networks to better effect. In fact, a number of progressive municipalities are already embarking on pilot projects with XON and NEC to test a software platform that unites the big data information from those sensors, across existing networks, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their resources.

The software platform is the missing link that unites resources in the field. The cloud-based platform updates, in realtime, on digital maps with touchscreen functionality, where resources are located, what type of resources they are, what their capabilities are, and make that information available to despatchers and allocation specialists in control rooms.

The platform collates surveillance data from existing cameras and performs functions like facial recognition at high speed to identify known criminals in public spaces, number plate recognition, crowd pattern behaviour detection, suspicious object detection and alert control room operators to enable them to despatch appropriate resources. That means that the platform enables controllers and operators to effectively monitor hundreds of thousands of hours of video produced every hour, which is not humanly possible. Because the platform never sleeps and can monitor and analyse any number of data feeds, it allows the operator to focus on qualified incidents and make informed decisions in the control room.

“The intelligence in the software platform represents a sea change in public safety and security,” says Carel Coetzee, CEO of XON. “It uses expensive existing infrastructure, so municipalities don’t face enormous infrastructure costs, but it pulls information from those existing sensors, intelligently analyses it, and in so doing gives municipalities the opportunity to maximise their existing resources to more efficiently and effectively provide safe and secure public spaces.”

“That’s just the first step,” he says. “The software platform allows modular additions so if municipalities have or deploy additional sensors they can improve almost any public service delivery within their ambit by simply connecting them to the software platform. A typical example also very relevant in South Africa could be to connect water leak detection sensors like NEC have done in many instances around the globe. This will provide early alerts of water leaks on this same cloud-based platform to save thousands of litres of drink water. The platform can also do things like monitor traffic congestion patterns and automatically change robot or traffic light signal times to help traffic move more effectively. NEC has even deployed smart dustbins in a number of cities around the globe, which contain volumetric sensors. These sensors then communicate to this same cloud-based platform to tell refuse removal when it is full. This information is then used to calculate routes for refuse removal trucks and only takes them to dustbins that need emptying. The same platform can monitor light and movement to only provide enough light when required in streets and public places to save huge amounts of energy. The only limit to what can be done is the limit of our collective imaginations.”

Bertus Marais, GM of Public Safety & Security at XON, says: “One municipality is already in the pilot project phase to test the practical application of this platform in the real world, using their current infrastructure, because they immediately grasped the benefits it brings to their citizens and their constituencies.”

The platform was developed by XON’s strategic partner, NEC, and has been in used at many other locations around the world for a number of years. XON and NEC Africa are working with municipalities in South Africa to immediately bring the pragmatic, practical benefits it offers in a South African and African context, with the option to add further smart city functionality.

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