Strength lies in unity, especially when forces join to tackle crime. Without a doubt, it is necessary for a smart city to have integrated public and private safety and security systems. This ensures the highest level of protection for a city and its citizens, without any sector working in a silo. Globally, this is starting to take off, with some very successful use cases proving the importance of partnerships and collaborations between public and private sector, which I have outlined below.
Public-private partnerships spread worldwide
Starting in the United States, a recent example of a real public-private collaborative effort to tackle crime was displayed through a project run in the city of Atlanta. The Atlanta police department launched Operation Shield, a video integration initiative that pulls video resources from private organisations, such as local businesses, and public entities such as public schools, into a single command centre, to provide law enforcement with a more holistic real-time view of situations across the entire city.
Law officials now have access to 24/7 surveillance throughout the city, something that would have been prohibitive before, due to the cost of owning and maintaining all those cameras themselves. Private businesses that share their live video with the police department mutually benefit from a more rapid, better-prepared response toward crime happening on or near their premises. Thus, this project showed a real partnership between the public and private sectors to improve crime prevention efforts.
Similarly, the Minneapolis SafeZone is a collaborative video surveillance and communications project between private security firms and public police forces, which has helped to lower crime rates in the downtown area. The city of Hartford, Connecticut, also minimised crime rates thanks to small businesses and community groups working on the same side as the local police department. You can view a video about the Hartford programme at https://youtu.be/W7kooPy32Bs
Another example of a successful public-private collaborative project is the Project Green Light Detroit, where the police department partners with gas stations across the city and the community to improve neighbourhood and local business safety. The result is a strengthened relationship between public services and private businesses operating in the area.
Heading south, Conectandonos, Mexico, is a project of collaborative video surveillance between private industry, government and the community, which involves sharing the use of IP cameras at zero cost for municipalities, integrating efforts in order to improve security and enhance the quality of life of its citizens.
Moving to Europe, there are some smart city projects in the Netherlands, driven by triple or quadruple public-private helix clusters such as the government, institutions, industries and the community. Stratumseind, a bar street in Eindhoven, is turned into a living lab with innovative technologies. The project started in 2014 and is still running. Generic data of the nightlife crowd is used to influence the mood of the visitors and improve public safety.
In Assen, the police, fire department, paramedics and traffic control keep the crowd safe during the annual biker festival, when more than 100 000 people visit the city. In the city centre of Almere, traffic flow has improved thanks to collaboration between parking management and police forces.
React – respond – resolve
As seen through the above cases, these ‘smart’, connected cities allow the development of a real-time video surveillance system. This allows law enforcement to more accurately and efficiently react to, respond to and resolve crime across a much wider area. This improves the management of the city’s most critical issues related to crime and makes citizens feel safer, improving the overall reputation of the city and attracting investment, which leads to economic development.
Partnerships between public organisations, private companies and the community can bring benefits to the whole system – in addition to law enforcement and the associated public safety. It can also be used in other areas such as traffic management, environmental management and even warnings about potential natural disasters.
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