Smart Cities Can Save Lives

14th February 2017


Smart Cities are using information and communication technology to make their Cities better places to live and work. Promoting a comfortable, healthy and safe lifestyle attracts new residents thus growing the City’s economy and long term aspirations.

Living in a Smart City has many benefits to its residents, differing in importance depending on people’s lifestyles. However, one thing that every single City resident has a vested interest in is their City’s emergency response efficiencies, which could mean the difference between life and death.

An increasing population inevitably puts more strain on emergency service teams, which is why many Cities are looking towards a more intelligent way to manage its emergency services as opposed to recruiting more personnel and purchasing more vehicles which can be costly and inefficient to the City.

There are many ways a City can begin to implement a more efficient emergency service, for example Oakland County, Michigan is improving its 911 service with the capability to accept text, images, and enhanced location data along with voice calls to the County’s public safety personnel, enhancing data collected from an incident. Its new public safety network replaces an aging 911 infrastructure and enables public safety answering points to receive 911 calls more quickly and dispatch Oakland County’s emergency first responders more effectively. The new system also links 21 public safety answering points, further improving regional inter-operability.

Digitally enabled Cities may adopt a more connected approach, with a number of its assets networked together. This could include 911 call centers, CCTV cameras, data centers and viewing centers all connected and working together to provide critical information. CCTV can obtain information from the scene, assisting the emergency teams prior to their arrival on scene. Communication networks can ensure that messages are transmitted efficiently to and from data and viewing centers with ease as well as managing the secure storage of the information.

Alongside the above, digital traffic management adopted by the City can also assist in getting the emergency teams to an incident in the shortest time by rerouting, setting speed limits and general traffic management to City’s traffic flow, ensuring emergency teams arrive at an incident promptly, increasing the chances of survival or life changing injury in some cases.

Emergency response is just one example of how the collection of live data and the efficient processing of that data allows real time decisions to be made with greater degrees of accuracy and confidence.

“Emergency response is high on the agenda for Cities implementing Smart initiatives.” Commented David Thomas Networks Operations Director at SiFi Networks.

“The possibilities are endless when you have the right infrastructure in place to collect, analyze and effectively use data to improve the lives of city residents. Our networks can enable these smart initiatives and future proof a city for decades to come” he added.

A City with smart emergency can also benefit from a strategic response strategy in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or flooding.

IBM introduced an Intelligent Operations Center for Emergency Management which takes into account a range of sources to predict disasters and how they could affect people and City infrastructure in certain areas. Weather data, for example, is provided by IBM to analyze how fast storms are moving and where they will hit. In addition to analyzing data, IBM’s software can also simulate the impact such occurrences will have on the City to ensure the relevant emergency services are prepared and able to plan for the least disruption and danger to the public.

SiFi Networks funds, builds and operates fiber optic networks enabling Smart City initiatives such as emergency response networking.

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