3 IoT integrations needed for the future of smart cities

When looking at the top IoT trends, most of the buzz is around “smart cities.” But what really makes a city smart?

While the reach of the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to expand daily and globally, few organisations realise the groundbreaking impact this approach can have for enterprise security and public safety.

Conversely, while IoT is still considered an emerging market, 68 per cent of businesses are already using IoT applications. The significant percentage of present adoption proves that organisations realise the value of IoT, even as some struggle with its strategic implementation.

When looking at the top IoT trends, most of the buzz is around “smart cities.” But what really makes a city “smart” and how can a security software platform help to enable this transformation? When looking toward the future of smart cities, there are three key areas where IoT integration can extend an organisation’s capabilities and propel them forward into a smart city mentality.

Virtual Situation Management (VSM):

Virtual Situation Management gives organisations the ability to manage globally dispersed assets, not only distributed geographically (i.e., locally, regionally, nationally and globally), but also across multiple partner and sharing organisations. Each of these locations and partner organisations could have their own concept of operations, priorities, and policies where VSM provides the ability for each entity to operate both independently, but also collaboratively, as situations arise.

VSM provides a consolidated, dashboard view of situations across multiple, and independent application servers, thus significantly improving both situation management and reporting capabilities across all subsystem data. In the case of a city, VSM could be used to monitor situations across multiple agencies such as fire, police, public utilities in real-time.

This view allows the city to narrow down searches to agency subsystems and allow for full visibility of alarms, incidents, or emergencies across the entire city from one unified view.

Enterprise Data Visualisation (EDV):

Enterprise Data Visualisation enables the threat and risk data generated around an organisation’s environment to be received, filtered and correlated in order to provide real-time alerts of potential impact to their personnel, resources, facilities, and brand.

This capability includes processing unstructured data from open source data and social media inputs by creating “situations” based on customer-specific criteria. Users can dynamically prioritise those that are most urgent based on their unique requirements and operating tempo. Whether it is tracking severe weather patterns that indicate approaching storms or capturing negative customer tweets via social media, enterprise data visualisation is key to raising awareness of a developing situation.

Video surveillance cameras cannot be in all places at all times. Therefore, cities need a centralised platform that can bring in all types of information from video cameras, still images, citizen reports, and social media. Sensors, security systems and other systems already in place need to be coordinated in real-time so that the data can be collected and understood.

Cities are presented with many challenging events, and enterprise data visualisation gives operators and decision makers the ability to get another perspective of developing situations. For instance, during the event of a flood a city would be able to monitor social media alerts, and proactively close off a flooded area or open drainage areas to minimise the overall damage. Another example would be an active shooter situation in a school, hospital, or government building.

Social media and open source inputs can be correlated to automatically trigger cameras toward reports of gunshots to capture the situation in real-time. This correlation allows law enforcement to make more informed decisions before taking action.

Enterprise Business Intelligence (EBI):

Enterprise Business Intelligence reporting tools allow customers to pull data from multiple sources into a single dashboard and create custom reports. This functionality is a useful tool for municipalities to better understand the changing status of data points occurring within their environment.

Reporting should be both flexible and scalable to the end user, providing the ability to utilise data for budgeting and resource allocation. Integrators and end-customers can leverage the platform to support operations for a wide variety of applications, such as cybersecurity, manufacturing, supply-chain management and building management systems.

When Business Intelligence is properly supported in a city environment, the positive impacts provide a tangible return on investment. For example, for city managers, such reporting could identify more efficient routes for waste trucks by tracking their daily routes. A simple change to each driver’s route could have the additional benefit of reducing harmful emissions and lower fuel costs. 

Similarly, the BI data platforms can also help to make city transit more efficient, leading to less congestion on the roads and tunnels, and more riders each day resulting in higher income for the city.

A Converged Approach

Great security platforms should work like the human brain - holding onto information that is important and letting go of what is not relevant. Data correlation and integration between platforms is the most forward-thinking way to approach smart cities platforms. When cities are able to collect data from all of their sensors, devices, systems and subsystems including social media then they are able to make actionable decisions that improve their city.

Each of the above three components; VSM, EDV and EBI are valuable tools on their own; but it is possible to combine these three together in a Converged Security and Information Management (CSIM) platform. CSIM leverages these and other components, collecting the ever-increasing amounts of data and correlating the data to provide actionable information. In a smart city environment, this can dramatically improve not only the security and safety of citizens but the efficiency of city operations.

As more cities begin to implement this integrated IoT technology, they will realise enhanced situational awareness to support better decisions and the ability to better manage situations across their enterprise from any location in real-time.

And as IoT connectivity continues to expand, it will provide the ability for organisations to improve their overall operations and efficiency, creating both smarter and safer communities across the world.

James Chong, CEO, Vidsys

Image Credit: Jamesteohart / Shutterstock