In addition to everyday threats such as crime, cities are vulnerable to natural disasters, epidemics, and acts of terror. Even though we all know that these emergencies occur and how devastating they can be, few city infrastructures are adequately prepared to cope with them. Yet, technology stands ready to make our cities safer, while reducing costs and generally making cities more efficient.

Huawei and Hexagon jointly developed the world's first converged command system, covering pre-incident inspection, during-incident processing, and post-incident analysis.

Four Pillars of Safe Cities

Market research firm Frost & Sullivan defines Safe Cities in terms of four pillars. First, Safe Cities need integrated communications and other technologies that connect multiple agencies into a cohesive whole. This connectivity is important for emergency services as well as traffic and event management.

With the first technology pillar in place, the second pillar supports collaboration among the agencies. In many cities around the world, the police information silo is separate from the fire department or public works information silos. Cities that see this isolation as a problem can gain a lot of leverage from the connecting technology that makes cities safer and reduces costs.

The third pillar is command and control, where the aggregation of information can enhance situational awareness. Technology can enable smooth transfers of information between emergency and public service agencies as each situation requires.

When you have all the data from all city agencies smoothly combined, what good is it if you cannot make sense of it? So, the last of the four pillars is intelligence and analytical capabilities. Gaining insight from data is essential to making data gathering worthwhile.

To implement these four pillars, you need a mix of software and hardware. That is why Hexagon and Huawei have partnered on many Safe City projects around the world.

The Joint Solution Created by Huawei and Hexagon

Hexagon is a leading provider of public safety software for integrated dispatch that is used in about 50 countries around the world. Huawei provides the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) platform that helps Hexagon implement innovative solutions, including video capabilities and all of the necessary networking. The joint solution created by Huawei and Hexagon is the first worldwide converged command and control system. Before an emergency, this system provides good communications to meet everyday requirements. During an emergency, the system helps deploy the right resources. Afterward, the system supplies analytics and video recordings that help operators understand how to prevent future problems.

Real-world examples, such as New York City, illustrate these points. Serving a population of 8.6 million people, with more than 20.2 million people in the greater metropolitan area, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has more than 34,000 uniformed officers and 51,000 total employees. In 2013, the NYPD replaced its four-decade-old Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system with a Hexagon solution. The new system enables the city to follow police cars visually on a map. When officers step out of patrol units, their whereabouts can be tracked using video surveillance. Today, the system permits the NYPD to handle about 30,000 calls per day. As a follow-on, the city’s fire department and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) are adopting the same solution.

Chiang Dao, Thailand is a second example. Comprised of 11 rural districts and 12 suburban areas, this city had many different, unconnected public safety agencies. Huawei and Hexagon installed a command and control system that aggregated the agencies’ information to create a unified solution. Today, using a Geographical Information System (GIS) framework, the solution feeds video from around the city to agency personnel, establishing Chiang Dao’s Safe City system as one of the world’s most advanced.

By Steven CostPresident of Safety and Infrastructure, Hexagon

An Interview with Steven Cost

In the following ICT Insights interview, Steven Cost, Hexagon’s President of Safety and Infrastructure, answers how and why Hexagon and Huawei teamed up and where he hopes the partnership will take the two companies.

  • Q:How would you describe Hexagon’s partnership with Huawei?

    A:I think the partnership has a bright future. Cities can use the software in the public safety space that Hexagon develops and marry that with the eLTE and broadband trunking technology from Huawei to bring an integrated solution to the table. Cities have a one-stop opportunity to buy everything they need for a state-of-the-art solution.

  • Q:So, Huawei hardware supports Hexagon software, which runs the show.

    A:Correct. As data becomes more and more prevalent, the opportunity in the public safety space to have real-time video sent to a 911 command center becomes invaluable. Live feeds from the scene allow you to really help protect citizens by deploying the right resources based on accurate information.

  • Q:Please share your thoughts on Hexagon as a leader in the public safety industry.

    A:We’ve been in public safety for about 25 years. Today, we protect about one in 12 people around the world with our systems. The company has progressed from a hardware platform to focus on software, and we continue to look at new technologies. The task used to be about getting the sensor data and aggregating the data. Now, the job is really about what you do with the data — how you use software to perform analytics. So, we’re turning all of these raw data points into information in a public safety setting.

  • Q:How can partners such as Huawei work with Hexagon to achieve your goals and influence the development of the ICT infrastructure?

    A:Hexagon and Huawei complement each other geographically. Hexagon’s public safety solutions are very strong in North America and Western Europe. Obviously, Huawei has tremendous strength globally but primarily in Asia Pacific. We talk about the layers of the solution, and we can also point out the relationships with the major cities in Western Europe. We are able to sit down with them and have a conversation about Huawei hardware and what the company’s great products can do. I think that’s the secret sauce that we’re after with the relationship.

  • Q:How is Hexagon changing the shape of the public safety industry?

    A:The analytics piece is a major focus. It answers the question, ‘What do you do with all this data?’ Our software reacts to all of the sensor data and is able to make sense of it. We’re working hard on creating predictive analytics around public safety to answer questions like “Where do I need smart patrolling? Where do we position the police car? When do we put an officer or officers on the street based on weather, time, historical data, or a specific event?” By piecing all of that together, we can help deploy the right resources in the right place even before a problem occurs.

  • Q:What is the expected impact of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT)?

    A:AI and the other technologies will allow machine learning, so the system will actually make decisions before you even knew there was a decision to be made. As the information becomes available, the AI system will analyze the data before you ask the question.

  • Q:So, the AI and Big Data pieces are really a single piece?

    A:They definitely will converge. I think that, over time, all those lines will blend with Hexagon’s software. You see Huawei moving into software; you see these things moving together; and so these lines are all being blurred.

  • Q:What are the most interesting challenges that you’re currently facing, and what solutions are under consideration?

    A:One of the things that we’re spending a lot of time and effort on right now is smart patrolling. We’re working very closely with some robotics companies to replace their guards with robots. They’re mostly for factory or industrial site use, but they change two things.

First, you really don’t want to displace all of the people, but you can replace two-thirds of them and still have a smart command center. You don’t necessarily need an armed robot, but you can hang an unlimited number of sensors on a mobile sensor platform (robot). You can have a smoke sensor. You can have cameras and all types of detectors for biometric data, infrared light, or anything else. Ninety percent of security patrols are routine, so you mostly need information about changes. It’s when something is different from the last patrol that you need to react. We’re spending a lot of R&D there.

The second thing about robots is that their use can be greatly enhanced with good analytics. We need to use Big Data and create predictive analytics. So, I think that those two areas are really on the cutting edge, and they’re both obviously integral to public safety.

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