Khaled KamrAldawla, Key Account Manager, ME at Axis Communications discusses surveillance to smart cities: a technological transformation of the Middle East.
The number of people living in urban populations is rising on every continent, and today more than half the world’s population lives in cities. At the same time, the world is rapidly accelerating toward a more digital future, giving rise to new technologies that offer innovative solutions to old problems. As a result, many cities are now beginning to tap into data-driven surveillance and smart city solutions to make cities safer and more liveable.
Countries in the Middle East are driving this technological transformation from the ground up, with Saudi Arabia standing out for its ambitious multibillion-dollar projects. Some of the most significant smart city projects currently in development are Masdar City, the Zayed Smart City Project, NEOM, and Amaala – all of which use technology, sustainability, and natural landscapes to create a better society and a thriving economy.
Smart cities use data and digital technologies to make more informed decisions and improve our quality of life in various ways. A report from the McKinsey Global Institute has found that the use of smart technologies can improve quality-of-life indicators by 10 to 30 percent, which translates to better public health and safety, more streamlined urban mobility, and increased environmental sustainability. We are only just beginning to realise the potential of smart technologies in urban environments.
A safer society
One of the main objectives for city leaders is to create a safer environment for citizens, and the use of data and surveillance is helping them achieve this. From crime prevention to more informed emergency management, smart solutions are providing cities with more proactive and cost-effective ways to address public safety.
Real-time crime mapping, for example, uses data and predictive analytics to identify crime patterns in neighbourhoods and prevent incidents before they occur. Smart surveillance cameras with advanced analytics can be used to detect crimes as they happen, with features such as trespassing or gunshot detection allowing authorities to respond immediately while also providing them with valuable forensic information.
Furthermore, multidirectional and fish-eye network cameras can cover large public spaces in great detail and without blind spots from a single installation point. Network cameras are also more cost-effective and less labour-intensive than conventional CCTV systems as they can all be monitored, managed, and maintained from one central location.
Smart surveillance is improving public safety by providing situational awareness in the event of emergencies or natural disasters. For example, loudspeakers can be integrated with environmental detectors to play pre-recorded warnings during earthquakes, fires, or flooding. Smart surveillance allows city authorities to detect these events as they happen and make more informed decisions to mitigate their impact. Similarly, these surveillance systems can help manage crowds during public events with analytics such as people counting and crowd detection.
Improved urban mobility
With urban populations on the rise, transport infrastructure is put under significant strain, which has an impact on businesses, commuters, and the environment. Smart-mobility solutions have the
potential to cut commuting times by intelligently synchronising traffic signals with real-time data, allowing traffic flow to be managed proactively.
Cameras and analytics are also being used for number plate recognition, allowing authorities to identify and prosecute offenders to make roads safer. Additionally, these systems can be used to monitor parking lots, parking times, and the detection of parking violations – making cities less congested and more streamlined for commuters and businesses alike.