Safe and smart city systems initially take the form of effectively integrated existing systems, already deployed by various departments and organisations, to provide new capabilities, such as video sharing among emergency responders and providing geographic information systems maps to improve response times.
Moreover, the success of integrated systems in supporting specific functions serves as the basis for broader open systems to provide smart city systems for citizens to use, says information and communication multinational Huawei enterprise business group government and public utility VP Edwin Diender.
“Safe cities, almost by necessity, are the first step towards smart cities. The priorities, as identified by the customer, in the case of cities, the authorities and agencies, are used to constitute the initial functionalities of the system.
“Once the integrated platform is in place to support these functions, it becomes easier to add additional functionalities and agencies, especially as the benefits of a shared information platform are realised and sharing of information between agencies becomes routine practice.”
Huawei Kenya CEO Dean Yu notes that the Huawei safe city platform has been in place in Nairobi and Mombasa for a year and is a unified communications platform incorporating the police, the Ministry of the Interior and emergency medical services.
Huawei Kenya wireless product director Rose Moyo highlights that the safe city system is scalable and can thus be deployed iteratively and within existing budgets.
The closed-circuit television system in Nairobi, which is currently used to support police operations by gathering video evidence, tracking car licence plate numbers and providing live video feeds from cameras near crime scenes, is also being used to monitor traffic congestion in the city.
Diender notes that these basic functionalities are augmented with additional information feeds and contextualised through combining the information in backend analytics systems, such as using the location of an emergency call from a mobile device to provide the precise location of the caller without having to ask the caller to provide that detail.
“Functionality such as caller location dramatically improves the value gleaned from emergency calls, reduces response times and helps to ensure that the correct resources are deployed to the scene.”
Huawei global government and public utility president Chen Qi points out that the crime rate in Nairobi has decreased by about 46% over the past year, partly owing to the fact that criminals know they are being watched, as well as there being improved evidence to support convictions once criminals are apprehended.
Moyo highlights that the platform is designed as an open platform that enables the integration of existing systems, including non-Huawei systems, into a single platform without the need to replace any existing systems.
Diender adds that part of the design of the platform is that it reuses existing communications systems to support different requirements. For example, existing second-generation telecommunications systems are often leveraged to provide connectivity for sensor networks, while functions that have higher bandwidth requirements, such as video, voice and data sharing, use third-generation and fourth-generation (4G) connectivity.
The open platform can also intelligently leverage fixed and mobile connectivity to improve the speed and efficiency of data sharing between the various stakeholders.
“Once this platform is in place, authorities can provide systems to improve citizen interaction, and the improved efficiencies can help to bolster economies,” says Diender.
The progressive expansion of smart city systems also means ensuring laws and regulations address such issues as private information protection, and that the solutions that respond to those regulations are then in place for other systems to use, says Moyo.
“Eventually opening these safe city platforms to other public and private organisations enables the vision of truly smart cities to take shape,” concludes Diender.
The summit showcased safe city best practices in cities like Nairobi and Mombasa. As part of its strategy of industry collaboration to drive innovative safe city solutions, Huawei demonstrated its new 4G and cloud-based smart safe city solutions, which were codeveloped with partners, and shared its other partner innovations successfully deployed in Africa.
Huawei partnered with Safaricom to deploy the Kenya National Police Service system in Nairobi and Mombasa.
*Schalk Burger is a guest of Huawei at the Safe City Summit being held in Nairobi, Kenya.