When public-private becomes a reality in Smart Cities

Andrea Sorri

Strength lies in unity, as the saying goes. Without a doubt, it is necessary for a Smart City to have integrated public and private safety and security systems, with public entities and private stakeholders no longer working in silos. 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 – I’ve outlined a few below.

Public-private goes worldwide

Starting in the United States, 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 minimized crime rates thanks to small businesses and community groups working on the same side as the local police department.

Another example is the Project Green Light Detroit, where the police department partners with gas stations across the city and the community to improve neighborhood 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 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 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 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 center of Almere, traffic flow has improved thanks to collaboration between parking management and police forces.


The power of public-private

Such Smart City projects allow the development of a real-time video surveillance system that’s always updated as a result of the cooperation between local businesses and security officers with police forces. Sharing their everyday security monitoring experience enhances rescue measurements and simplifies police investigation, improves the management of the city’s most critical issues related to crime, traffic, environment and security overall and provides citizens with a better perception of safety.

Employing these best practices, partnerships between public organizations, private companies and the community can bring benefits to the whole system: public safety, economic development and improved management efficiency, with municipalities giving citizens and local businesses the chance to play a key role in the process.