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What does this mean?

Intelligent Law Enforcement and Emergency Response

How automation and connected technologies keep communities safer.

Remember the security protocols of 15 to 20 years ago? It’s almost unimaginable to consider that a vital component was security guards staring at monitors. As a changed society with different threats, we have new needs, and today, public safety has more advanced technologies to answer them – smart surveillance, interoperative systems, and automated capture and analysis of data from devices and processes. 

These technologies give law enforcement and emergency responders tools they didn’t dream of a decade ago. They raise the bar on agency coordination, provide jurisdictional leadership and first responders with critical information at critical junctures. They allow us to use public resources better, operate our cities smarter and make the world we live in – not immeasurably, but truly, measurably -- safer. 

The Long View: Enhanced Situational Awareness

The lack of cross-agency communication and fractured situational awareness among first responders during 9/11 has become a cautionary tale, one that brought enhanced awareness and modifications to public safety practices. In the case of two specific U.S. cities, this has taken the form of a widespread surveillance network that provides and shares intelligence to detect, prevent and respond to threats.

IBM and city engineers worked together to design a comprehensive surveillance infrastructure that would capture, monitor and catalogue video from public and private sources for public safety usage in these cities. A unified fiber network served as base coverage for highly populated areas, bolstered by a wireless network where needed. Hundreds of new video cameras were installed, and resources were saved by linking them to existing public and private cameras.

The combined power of video cameras connected across cities now provides comprehensive security oversight to centralized command and operations centers, where algorithms and automated visual analysis define threat levels and direct action. This data informs dispatchers who can summon a multi-agency response, and command center dashboards permit notification to responders through a Web portal, email and handheld devices. Emergency calls can tie to cameras in the incident neighborhood, giving responders a lens on the area for risk assessment and a more informed response. The magnitude of its impact makes it safe to say that, in law enforcement, it’s the wave of the future.

Rail Lines Stop Criminals in their Tracks

Structures such as bridges, tunnels and substations are difficult assets to protect with security guards alone. Video cameras can record criminal acts as they happen, but discovery and traditional video analysis are largely ineffective in catching bad actors in the moment. Theft, damage and threats to public safety are expensive, time-consuming problems for rail networks.

To thwart those elements, IBM’s smart surveillance solution, Video Correlation and Analysis Suite (VCAS), has been deployed in Europe to stop criminal activity along rail systems. 

With the implementation of VCAS at 150 spots along the railway, millions of daily occurrences are recorded in real time via cameras, detectors and nuanced sensors. Analyzed with vision and pattern recognition software, analysis systems and algorithms integrate with the rail provider’s own security infrastructure. Results are categorized automatically as either routine events or a risk that triggers alerts. Notification of suspicious activities – say, unauthorized trespassing, graffiti vandalism or abandoned luggage – is sent to security as they happen on command center monitors. In this way, the security response can be streamlined specifically to incidents deserving their attention. 

Data is indexed to make it searchable, too: time, location, clothing, object colors and personal characteristics are classified. Information retrieval is instantaneous and shareable, making investigations swift and incident escalation easier to control or prevent.

This approach brings rail security closer to what is actually happening on the ground in real time, providing the right information at the right time. What’s more, this approach can is easily replicable in communities across the U.S., giving rail security a better chance of saving lives and property before accidents or criminal acts progress to loss of life or destruction.

Weathering the Storm: Continuity and Recovery 

For jurisdictions and agencies, public safety during disasters has separate but related emphases: Everything it takes to ensure the preservation of life, and everything it takes to ensure that life goes on after survival is assured. In the latter case, the back-office efforts that guarantee business continuity and recovery are a critical piece of sustainable city planning, such as in the case of a U.S. human services agency serving 200,000 citizens – many of them vulnerable children and older adults – that found itself severely underprepared when back-to-back hurricanes devastated the region. 

Not only was the agency faced with providing emergency housing, employment and health services for affected residents and evacuees, the infrastructure tasked with storing information in support of those services was massively overburdened. In addition, data backup and recovery systems were inadequate, email communication was bogged down, and what offsite backup storage the agency had was contained in the same, disaster-stricken locale. Costs were mounting fast and compliance with regulations was at risk.

IBM was able to help the agency manage its many challenges through cloud computing, replacing inefficient manual systems with automated ones. Using its SmartCloud Managed Backup solution, business and client data was backed up automatically and incrementally, email communications were restored to their full function via cloud-based servers and, given IBM’s oversight of various functions, the agency was saved from further capital expenditure on hardware, software and support services. 

A customized Web portal allowed administrators to update and restore settings and criteria, initiate service and monitor all activity. Backup records were moved 1,200 miles offsite to a safe IBM Business Continuity and Recovery Center, compliance was assured and the pay-as-you-go scalability of the solution reduced IT costs for the agency by 40 percent. 

In less than six months, the agency that had been in crisis mode experienced demand and response stabilization and was able to turn its attention to business as usual – ensuring mission-critical human services for its constituents.

Learn more about how IBM’s solutions can help make your community safer.


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