Creating the right image in the intelligent city

How video analytics helps digital cites enhance public safety solutions.


According to the World Health Organization, seven out of every ten people will live in a city by 2050—an urban population of 6.4 billion. For public service organizations, this explosion of population density means service demands that present complex safety and security challenges. Knowing what is happening and where helps, and with the global CCTV market expected to reach around $23.5 billion per year by the end of 2014, most city dwellers have accepted cameras’ watchful eye as a fixture of their urban habitat. But the sheer volume of data being captured means that human analysis is simply not fast or thorough enough to make best use of it; indeed, some estimate that up to 98 percent of CCTV footage remains unseen by anyone.


Public safety technology such as video analytics can provide real-time intelligence to help public safety agencies be proactive rather than reactive. Predictive analytics techniques produce “street ready” data that enables immediate or preventative action. And as the cost of always-on digital technologies and communications systems falls, advanced analytics is swiftly becoming more affordable, with electronic eyes that “watch without blinking” for greater situational awareness, insights and value.

Automating video capture enhances data privacy: large-scale data collection protects citizens’ anonymity—by assessing patterns, not people. For the majority of video analytics applications, the data is used for counting purposes only, while special cameras are required, beyond regular CCTV, for face recognition. And robust privacy laws mean that anonymized data is the only practical answer for most video analytics applications.


One city that is already undertaking a ground breaking safe city test bed is Singapore. In April 2013, as part of a Singapore government initiative led by the Safety and Security Industry Programme Office (SSIPO), Accenture was selected by the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB) to integrate advanced analytic capabilities into the existing video monitoring systems used in the city, to increase situational awareness, streamline operations and enhance the response times of city authorities to public safety incidents.

In just a few months, the Singapore system has proved a great success. “Technology is a force multiplier that can help government agencies cope with the increasing demands and complex security challenges which arise from rapid urbanization,” said Mr. Anselm Lopez, Co-Director of the SSIPO and Director Capability Development and International Partnerships at Ministry of Home Affairs.

Accenture helped equip the Singapore Government to deliver innovation in crowd management analytics, with a greater than 80 percent accuracy using just five video cameras in one of Singapore’s busiest metro interchange stations. In addition, the Accenture crowd simulation model was used to predict crowd movement through this station during the 2013 Formula 1 Grand Prix in Singapore. Other benefits gained include increased operational support, anomaly detection through social media monitoring and analytics and real-time decision making.


To understand how safe a city is, it is essential to monitor it daily, feeding that vital intelligence back into creating further improvements and maintaining consistent progress. Under pressure to do more with less, municipalities and local governments would do well to embrace public safety solutions including advanced analytics to better manage day-to-day city operations, enhance emergency response and deliver public service for the future.