The Future of Video in Smart Cities

Andrea Sorri

Digital transformation is not only changing the way businesses operate, it is also having an impact on the way we live. To get more thoughts about the future of network video in smart cities public safety and security, I talked to Massimiliano Claps, Associate VP at IDC Government Insights – EMEA:


Local governments and city authorities are increasingly looking for innovative ways to use technology and big data in a bid to make cities smarter. Crime, climate change, increasing pressure on traffic systems and demographic shifts are just some of the factors that combine to pose huge challenges for fast growing cities. And the problems are only going to get bigger: Forecasts see a 12 percent increase in city populations by 2050, with two thirds of the global population predicted to live in cities by 2050.

With this major transformation happening, city authorities know they will need to make the most of new technologies to boost the quality of living for their town’s inhabitants, drive economic development, and achieve long-term sustainability.

Public safety main reason to invest

It may be obvious but one of the key pillars of a smart city is public safety. In fact, for many local governments, this is the number one reason for investing in Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructures and applications. One important part of this are video networks, which can help make sense of the vast amount of data the IoT generates. Network video cameras provide real-time data with increasing granularity and allow deep insights through new and established video analytics applications. In addition, they have already proven reliable and cost effective in many city surveillance situations.

For local authorities, it therefore makes perfect sense to build on their existing network video infrastructures and share the information they collect across departments such as transport authorities, environment agencies, police, and emergency services – forming the backbone for other IoT initiatives that improve environmental monitoring, infrastructure management, traffic management, public transport, intelligent street lighting and many other areas.

Video-based smart city applications beyond security that already exist today include systems that monitor traffic flow and can adjust traffic lights to make roads less congested. As another example, the City of Utrecht in the Netherlands has installed a digital guidance system with network cameras to help cyclists find empty parking spaces.

The key to building these IoT infrastructures for smart cities lies in video platforms that have open interfaces, so they can easily be integrated with other smart systems, sensors and analytical applications.

The challenges that lie ahead are becoming ever more complex. We will only be able to master them if we can make technology, data and people work together seamlessly to transform the livability, sustainability, and economic power of cities.

Below an infographic that explains the future of video in smart cities’ public safety and security:

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