Smart cities are essentially an ecosystem of technology based on data and analysis to effectively manage goods and resources. The characteristics of a connected city and the technologies used to create it are constantly evolving. Connected city solutions are increasingly a reality: localities are now empowered to quickly create and customize user-specific applications that improve public safety.
Over the next decade, innovations in the transportation and energy sectors are expected to be the main investment hub for the development of connected cities, with an overall expenditure of around $124 billion by 2020. The project of a city fully connected by technological innovations has already exceeded the capacity of today's infrastructure. However, some advances in this sector are already playing a major role in strengthening the security of operations throughout Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium, to name but a few examples.
Intelligent detection solutions are critical to the technologies required to improve the safety of public operations in a multitude of local infrastructure, from streets, roads and intersections to buildings and other public spaces. These systems already stand out and allow us to look at the future of cities from the perspective of interconnectivity, and therefore improved situational perception and data-driven implementation of operations. A key question now arises: how can local authorities take advantage of existing technologies and infrastructure to make this project a reality?
Thermal solutions for transport
Thermal imaging is an essential aspect of intelligent transportation systems. This technology allows thermal movements to be tracked, regardless of situations or conditions. It can therefore be used for security purposes by multiplying up to four times the visibility offered by conventional cameras. It has been implemented in many cities around the world. Intelligent transport solutions, such as connected thermal and visible imaging systems, which monitor traffic flows and detect incidents, can provide cities with the means to better inform road users of hazards, delays and alternative routes to ensure movement for all.
Hamburg, which has been named one of Germany's most congested cities, now stands out as the country's most innovative connected city. Intelligent solutions solve the problem faced by Hamburg commuters (i.e. the loss of 113 hours a year in traffic jams) by providing a better overview of traffic dynamics. Municipal authorities install thermal imaging systems on traffic lights and streetlights to "see" data points. These cameras are interconnected via a cloud-based system that will collect and analyze high-resolution information in real time, resulting in complete data sets across the city's 420 intersections.
Traffic controllers can differentiate between pedestrians, vehicle types and cyclists, allowing them to accurately determine the level of traffic on the roads. This allows cloud-based control systems to receive valuable data that allows them to adjust fires in real time. In addition, information can be transferred with the utmost ease throughout the city, which means that controllers can improve long-term planning and reduce blockages. Traffic is regulated to reduce daily traffic jams.
Improving situation perception
Advances in road systems are already playing a major role in the security of operations in cities around the world. For example, the British authorities and the City of Durham, in particular, have recently deployed FLIR thermal sensors on existing road signs to implement a single anti-collision system that has reduced the number of incidents at intersections to zero. The installation of electronic road signs that trigger signal messages as an object passes has helped prevent accidents and ultimately save lives. Over time, driver behaviour can change, thanks to early warning systems that prevent sudden braking, allow drivers to adjust their speed accordingly and drive more economically.
Having this data allows municipal authorities to analyze information that can be used to optimize infrastructure performance and make roads safer. Whether it's anticipating peak hours on busy roads or indicating travel times on variable message boards, technology enables planners and residents to make safer and smarter transportation decisions.
Our engine, data connectivity
By sharing data and detecting incidents in real time by urban operators and first responders, interactions based on increased collaboration and efficiency are put in place, and security can be optimized. The use of a single data-sharing platform, connectivity between devices and end-user infrastructure allow command centers to have better control over public safety operations.
Thanks to the flexibility and scalability of cloud platforms, these solutions are customizable to specific needs, depending on whether they are used seamlessly for a management operation or platform and its associated interface, both at the city and agglomeration level. With a central communication node, command centers can monitor their environment from a single access point. What's more, AI data processing generates a faster and more consistent response across the city, regardless of the scenario.
By connecting cities with intelligent transportation solutions, such as FLIR connected thermal and visible imaging systems that control traffic and detect incidents, we can better inform travellers of hazards, delays and alternative routes to ensure movement for all. These systems are already making a difference and allow us to look at the connected city of the future, focused on situation-based perception and data-driven operations.
The ideas and concepts that underpin connected cities are constantly evolving, but their goal remains and should always remain the same: to ensure public safety.
Even though the project of a fully connected city exceeds the capacity of existing infrastructure, we have seen, through initiatives in Hamburg and Durham, that it is possible to transform existing infrastructure into an interconnected ecosystem of technologies. Citizens are thus better informed of hazards, delays and alternative routes, which guarantees mobility in cities and the safety of communities.
By Michael Deruytter, Product Director, Business Solutions
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