From the standpoint of the average citizen, public safety is one of the most visible and perhaps most understood of city responsibilities. We see aid vehicles, lights flashing as they race to the scene of an accident. We watch firefighters on the nightly news risking life and limb to save people from burning buildings. And we pass police officers on bikes and on foot as they patrol city streets. Today’s advanced technologies are keeping them – and their communities – safer.
In the Readiness Guide, public safety includes all the infrastructure, agencies and personnel that cities call on to keep their citizens safe — police and fire departments, emergency and disaster prevention personnel, courts, correction facilities, neighborhood watch groups, fire hydrants and squad cars. It’s a lengthy list that may include infrastructure and resources from other city departments and non-city agencies and even private citizens.
Smart cities empower these agencies and personnel with information and communications technologies (ICT) to create “smart public safety” and greatly improve safety outcomes. The brief scenario at right illustrates the smart public safety concept.
In 10 minutes, a tornado will touch down in a suburb of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Wind and audio sensors deployed across the city have been tracking the super cell as it moves towards a densely populated area.
Eindhoven’s command center mobilizes fire and emergency management personnel and resources with a single command, and these personnel move into position. The tornado touches down, damaging several homes. As the tornado dissipates, the two public safety agencies begin their combined search and rescue and triage operations seamlessly – each knowing which resources the other has brought to bear thanks to a citywide communications network. That means they aren’t wasting time duplicating effort.
Through their mobile devices, the fire and medical first responders stay current on conditions across the neighborhood as it is explored by their colleagues. At the end of the operation, quick response time and efficient division of labor between agencies are credited with saving lives and resources.