According to CompTIA, 60% of Americans want to live in a smart city, but only 10% of officials feel confident in bringing it to life. Safety is certainly at the top of the list when considering any municipal transformation of this magnitude. Considering 20.8 billion connected “things” will be in use worldwide by 2020, cities are under immense pressure as citizens demand technological progress.
Enter the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT will play a massive role in the implementation—and safety—of any connected city. It’s already changing how we work, play, dine, learn, communicate, shop and drive (or don’t drive, thanks to autonomous vehicles). But how will IoT be leveraged to keep citizens safe?
Our top 4 ways IoT can make your city safer
Not all threats to cities are due to criminal behavior. Many come from failed equipment, oversights or improper maintenance. Think of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, hazardous water quality and air pollutants. All of these could be viable threats to your city at any time.
What used to be expensive, manual processes—relying on various experts in various fields—can now be automatically detected and reported by IoT-enabled sensors. Thanks to advances in sensor technology, one unit can track multiple dangers, which makes it even more affordable for tight-budgeted cities.
2) Facial recognition
Did you know that advanced facial recognition software can track individuals in a video even when their faces aren’t visible? Combining IoT with AI and deep learning, this recognition-based technology is now being marketed to law enforcement for video surveillance. Once a face is “in the system,” advanced algorithms can recognize them with remarkable precision. Facial key points are detected and the best facial recognition application can identify you with up to 97% accuracy.
Since this concept has already demonstrated the ability to identify escaped convicts who appear on security cameras while on the run, the police department in your city may already be testing or using it.
3) Autonomous vehicles (that don’t hit people)
Nearly 1.3 million lives are lost in car accidents worldwide each year. That’s more than 3,000 deaths a day. Will you one day see a law passed deeming human driving illegal in your city?
IoT makes it possible for autonomous vehicles to avoid dangers that humans can’t. Since computers can process data faster and more effectively than humans, they can sense and anticipate accidents before they occur. This enables them to brake quicker, swerve faster and reach destinations safely. Also, driverless vehicles don’t text friends, have road rage, fall asleep at the wheel or drive drunk.
We report this knowing that it’s not all roses in the driverless world. Uber suffered a PR nightmare when one of its driverless cars killed a pedestrian. However, it’s too early to count the ride-hailing company out of the autonomous game, considering it had previously purchased 24,000 Volvo vehicles to form a fleet of driverless autos. And let’s not forget that Tesla, Google and many other players are racing to dominate the space.
Since, according to IHS Automotive, the number of vehicles with various levels of autonomy will grow to a total of 76 million sold by 2035, perhaps your city will “go driverless” in your lifetime.
4) Drone and kiosk surveillance
Since drones are getting cheaper, they may soon become a realistic mainstream option in terms of city security, including school campuses. Drone fleets can provide a 360° camera view of city activity, and even include speakers and microphones. As for charging the drone units, a staggered approach can be implemented to ensure continuous monitoring.
Complementing the mobility and bird’s-eye view of drones, stationary campus kiosks can provide additional 360° camera coverage, two-way communication and digital signage for alerts. Unlike drones, kiosks don’t risk inflight crashes or require downtime at charging stations. Both drones and kiosk cameras can include facial recognition technology.
Want to see a smart city come to life? Check out this infographic.