Video Surveillance & Physical Security Industry Viewpoints
March 22nd, 2021
Author: Muhammad Sheikh

What is Smart City Surveillance?

Collecting Data to Improve Efficiencies and Quality of Life

Smart Cities are those that use a variety of Internet-connected (IoT) technologies and databases to improve the efficiency and efficacy of city services. In general, their goals are to save money by improving efficiency and reducing waste, but also to improve constituent services, public safety, environmental conditions, and the overall quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors. Smart Cities typically have numerous agencies that collect data such as street light usage, water leaks, traffic volume, and real-time parking spot availability.

Getting the Most out of Video Surveillance

Video surveillance (CCTV) cameras, which are commonly used by urban police and transportation departments, can be part of the suite of “smart” technologies – especially if the cities also use video analytics software to derive operational intelligence from the footage. Video contains a wealth of valuable information, but most footage is never reviewed and – even if it was manually reviewed – human analysts are rarely able to effectively comprehend or analyze all the data that lies within it. Video content analytics technology solves that problem, by processing video data and identifying, classifying and indexing objects in video footage, such as cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, women, men, children, and animals. Driven by Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence, such software makes video searchable, actionable and quantifiable.

Surveillance is Not Just for Security

Video analytics software makes it possible to effectively review footage, respond to evolving situations, and research trends.

  • Powerful search filters based on extracted and indexed video metadata make it easy for analytics operators to quickly and accurately search through high volumes of video footage from across multiple cameras, in a matter of minutes instead of hours or
  • System operators improve situational awareness of unfolding incidents, by configuring real-time, rule-based alerts leveraging the video metadata. Operators can be notified about objects dwelling, people-counts, and line-crossings, as well as when objects of interest are detected using license plate or face
  • The video content collected over time empowers management teams to obtain valuable operational intelligence from video, and analyze dashboard reports about object behaviors, interactions, demographics and traffic

Multiple City Agencies Benefit from VCA

By expanding the applications of video surveillance beyond security with intelligent analytics, video content analytics technology transform video to a cross-functional resource that can be shared across organizations and municipal governments for various use cases.

The technology has numerous benefits to police; operators can conduct forensic review of footage to find suspects, conduct an appearance similarity search for a missing person, or use pedestrian heatmaps to help determine which property on a busy street is drug den. Law enforcement can also set up real-time face recognition and license plate alerts for images that are on a digital watchlist, or receive notifications to identify crowds and traffic hotspots as they are forming.

Another important application for many cities is increasing situational awareness ahead of expected protests and – especially – unexpected unrest. The ability to alert to gradually growing people counts and potential crowding can help law enforcement stay ahead of violence and vandalism and ensure that adequate forces are available to be deployed to control crowds when needed. By proactively detecting and responding to crowding, cities can preserve order and public safety, before incidents occur.

However, this technology is also highly valuable to other city agencies, such as public health, urban planning, public works, and transportation.

  • Transportation departments can make better operational decisions by having quantifiable video data regarding the demographics of their ridership and peak usage
  • Using a variety of analytics, city property managers can monitor building occupancy or foot traffic in city-owned buildings, such as schools, government offices, community centers, and
  • Urban planners use video content analytics to monitor traffic (vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, scooters) over time. Planners can quantify and classify vehicles and pedestrians, discover movement patterns, and identify traffic hotspots, so they can optimize pedestrian and vehicle traffic flow, which leads to safer, happier residents, businesses, and
  • Public health departments can gather anonymous data on whether constituents in public spaces are complying with COVID-19 health safety mandates, such as face masks and social distancing and develop plans to help increase

Most cities already have video surveillance networks; now, to maximize their existing investment in their CCTV networks and drive intelligent decision-making, Smart Cities are implementing video content analysis. It’s a logical and cost-effective technology because so many different agencies can derive value from the video data, which they can they apply in their efforts to increase efficiencies, streamline operations, and improve public health and safety.