The rise of smart cities, empowered by the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, has ushered in a new era of safety and security solutions that are more integrated and intelligent than ever before.
It’s forecast that by 2050, around 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities, and with this increase in urbanisation, public service providers will be under greater pressure than ever.
Thankfully, the smart city concept will improve efficiency and help them to remain effective, despite increasing populations.
Air quality is another concern that comes with rising urban populations, and the majority of Europe’s urban population are exposed to unsafe levels of particulate matter. While the IoT cannot solve the issue completely, it can help manage risks via hazard warnings.
This article reviews the different use cases of alarm monitoring within smart cities and looks at how the security industry can work with city planners to develop the best outcomes.
Use Cases of Alarm Monitoring in Smart Cities
Within every city lies the potential for a network of interconnected, automated systems that enhance efficiency for the public. From traffic lights that adapt in real-time to road conditions to waste bins that signal when they’re full, the IoT has the potential to transform the way cities operate.
In this ecosystem, alarm monitoring systems will no longer be standalone units. Instead, they will be part of the interconnected web of devices and systems that work together to make life safer and easier.
One influential development is Narrowband IoT (NBIoT), a communication protocol that allows IP-enabled devices to communicate over wide areas. An added benefit is their low power consumption, making it more sustainable to implement IoT systems at-scale. (In some use cases, devices can have a battery life of more than 10 years.)
So, how exactly does alarm monitoring fit into the equation? Some examples are below.
Hazard Protection & Smart Buildings
Smart buildings have the potential to provide greater protection than ever in the event of hazards. Consider the case of a fire – a smoke detector in a smart building could not only trigger an alarm but also shut down the electrical system, notify the fire service, and even provide real-time data on the source and extent of the fire.
The implications are far-reaching when smart buildings are able to communicate with each other. If there was a fire or other type of hazard in one building, a signal could be sent to the neighbouring buildings, giving inhabitants early warning and enabling proactive safeguarding measures.
The same applies with any other environmental hazards. Sensors can collect data on harmful pollutant levels, toxic gas leaks, or water leaks, ensuring timely responses and warnings to residents.
An advantage of this application of the IoT is that it protects residents without collecting personal data.
CCTV Monitoring & Access Control Monitoring
City-wide surveillance systems could be integrated with other systems that would help law enforcement to be more effective.
For example, imagine a scenario where a building’s security system detects unauthorised access. Instead of just sounding an alarm, it can communicate with streetlights to increase brightness in the vicinity or even redirect traffic to aid law enforcement response.
Real-time analytics based on data from security cameras can also be used to predict crime scenes, enabling the police to track suspects and prevent the crime from occurring. Of course, crime prediction is a controversial topic and the tactics involved here could be considered invasive surveillance.
As well as fighting crime, smart lighting comes with energy saving benefits. In many cases, streetlights are switched on when nobody is around, using electricity unnecessarily.
Of course, a degree of lighting is important for deterring criminals but if the area is truly empty of vehicles and people, switching off or dimming the lights would be more energy efficient. When sensors detect a person or vehicle approaching, the lights would switch on automatically.
Our solutions use event transmission technology, making it possible to monitor a broad range of signals such as in the example above – not just alarms.
Public Transport Safety & Traffic Management
Traffic congestion is one of the key challenges of rising urbanisation. A few examples of how the IoT and alarm monitoring can keep traffic to a minimum:
- Smart traffic lights can change their timing to improve the flow of traffic. In addition, they make the routes of emergency responders more direct.
- Network-connected cameras can send alerts based on real-time data and about traffic to the public and to other connected systems in order to better manage traffic.
- Parking alarms can indicate available parking spaces in real-time, directing drivers efficiently.
- Alarms could be triggered in buses or trains if there’s a mechanical issue, ensuring passenger safety and timely maintenance.
- Station platforms could have alarm systems to detect overcrowding and manage the influx of passengers.
Structural health monitoring systems collect data on the health of critical infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels, triggering alarms when potential weaknesses or failures are detected. Continuous monitoring helps to optimise maintenance costs by boosting the efficiency of maintenance processes.
Communications infrastructure can also be monitored, with alarms triggered if there’s a disruption in the city’s communication networks. This would allow for quick troubleshooting and repair, helping critical services stay up and running.
GeminiSense’s Tele-Care Module provides a nurse call system for people with disabilities, life-threatening medical conditions, cognitive impairment, and elderly or frail persons.
The user has an SOS button or fob and – if they need emergency or other assistance – the system sends alerts – along with the user’s health and medication data – to the central station. They can then direct them to the appropriate resource, whether that’s the emergency services, other healthcare professionals, or carers. These systems are also helpful in the case of domestic violence.
Public Health Alerts
Other health protection mechanisms include public health alarms that notify residents and authorities of outbreaks or health hazards in specific areas. Sensors, drones and other devices can monitor the risks associated with certain threats, such as standing water or infected insects.
Collaborations Between City Planners and the Alarm Industry
To ensure cohesive safety designs and maximise the benefits of modern alarm systems in smart cities, a deep collaboration between city planners and the alarm industry is crucial.
City planners, with their understanding of urban dynamics, can work hand-in-hand with the alarm industry’s technological expertise. Together, they can develop comprehensive safety systems that not only react to threats but anticipate and neutralise them.
Such collaborations can ensure the right solutions are implemented and in turn, the greatest ROI. After all, there is always the risk of implementing new technology just for the sake of it, especially when there are so many possible use cases.
Working closely to establish the most crucial applications and how different systems would need to integrate is key in ensuring resources are not wasted on initiatives that will not truly solve the problems in-question.
Integrating existing subsystems with third party/agnostic systems that provide a centralised control mechanism will also require close collaboration. This will ensure the best outcomes in terms of automation effectiveness, as well as overall system performance and energy efficiency.
Another vital consideration is public input, ensuring that monitoring systems do not infringe on privacy rights.
The development of smart cities is revolutionising the way we view alarm systems. No longer confined to individual buildings or homes, these systems now play a critical role in the larger context of urban safety and efficiency.
Collaborations between city planners and the security industry will lead to urban environments that are not only smarter but also safer for everyone – not just in terms of crime prevention, but also the protection from environmental hazards.
The GeminiSense NB-IoT Module enables any control centre to receive notifications from any asset to which a sensor is attached. To discover how your organisation could provide unprecedented safety and security using NB-IoT technology, contact us to book a demo.