From smart camera to intelligent urban advisor
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The future of security

From smart camera to intelligent urban advisor

Today, street cameras and sensors are mainly used by the police. But the technology offers many more possibilities. ‘We can use…

Today, street cameras and sensors are mainly used by the police. But the technology offers many more possibilities. ‘We can use them to manageentire cities.’

One man behind every camera to analyse the images, those times are far gone. Nowadays, clever computer algorithms view image streams of hundreds of cameras simultaneously. Only images deemed unusual or suspicious by the software are shown in real-time on the video wall in the control room, explains John Baekelmans, smart-city-expert and Managing Director of imec Netherlands. ‘The system relies on artificial intelligence. And that is a learning process. Self-learning algorithms increasingly help AI to better determine which images are interesting and which are not. Of course not all control rooms today are equipped with this technology, or with an equally advanced version of it. But this is definitely the future.’

John Baekelmans, Managing Director of imec Netherlands

Beyond safety

Smart cameras can be used for much more than following or fining people. John Baekelmans: ‘Today, they are also used to detect free parking spaces, count vehicles and follow up on mobility flows. In the coming years, these cameras will become more and more part of a much larger network. They will collaborate with smart sensors and online connected elements in a city. Connecting all these tools and making them collaborate in an intelligent way, is what drives the new evolution.’ John Baekelmans strongly believes in the potential of a so-called Digital Twin: A 3D copy of a city, in which the impact of certain components is visualised using real-time data. ‘It allows us, for example, to monitor the air quality on a street or even a house level, or to monitor the noise level or current traffic jams. Smart cameras and various measuring points in the city provide the data.’

In a smart city, the control room becomes an advisory policy instrument

John Baekelmans, Managing Director of imec Netherlands

The control room as a policy instrument

Policy makers can then use that data to take better and more targeted actions in their city. ‘The real revolution lies in the fact that you no longer use historical but real-time data. Thanks to this technology, cities always have access to the most up-to-date information in order to make decisions about safety, mobility, environment and much more. The control room becomes the beating heart of the city. The control room of the future not only analyses camera images, but also tons of other information. In a smart city, the control room becomes an advisory policy instrument.’

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