Written by- Sandesh Kaup, Country Manager, Milestone Systems
Cities in India are increasingly becoming unmanageable. The sheer volume and density of people to manage can be a cause for sleepless nights for even the most brilliant policy planners. With around 65% of the population still residing in the rural countryside, the scope for more migration from rural villages to urban towns and cities is massive.
According to data compiled by the United Nations, India’s urban population is expected to double to 814 million in 2050, up from 410 million in 2014. This influx of people is bound to put enormous strain on already stressed civic amenities like public transit systems, housing, and energy. Which means we need to plan for the cities of tomorrow today, and not resort to last minute ad-hoc plans to solve the myriad problems that are sure to arise.
This is where CCTVs and video management software (VMS) systems come into play. With the help of data analytics, AI and cloud capabilities, CCTVs today that leverage VMS can be used to accomplish a wide array of tasks. They are no longer simply camera systems used for security monitoring, but rather IoT devices with sophisticated sensors that can do a lot more, including managing megacities
What open architecture VMS can do for megacities
VMS has come a long way since its inception and has gained widespread usage worldwide. This trend can be seen in India too and is reflected in the uptick in usage of CCTV cameras. Research firm Mordor Intelligence says the CCTV market in India is expected to grow at 22.5% between 2020 and 2025.
Furthermore, VMS offerings today provide an open platform that is camera brand agnostic. This makes it easier to integrate legacy systems while ensuring that upgrading the system with new capabilities is simple, convenient, and importantly, cost-effective.
For many IT decision makers, upgrading their system, will be one of the more crucial capabilities that will help in decongesting and planning the cities of tomorrow.
The world’s technological capabilities have been evolving at a breakneck speed for decades, centuries arguably, and this trend is only going to continue with the advent of 5G, AI and the plethora of video analytic capabilities that these two technologies alone will usher in.
Take traffic congestion, for example, being stuck in traffic (and sometimes for hours), is by far one of the more aggravating problems of living in a big city. And alleviating it will go a long way in increasing our quality of life.
A gridlocked city that cannot be navigated via road can be a death knell in a future smart city, especially since more people now prefer personal mobility because of Covid-19.
In Seoul, South Korea, for example, local officials use CCTV cameras placed around the city to get a bird’s eye view of traffic from buses, cars, taxis, subway systems, etc. Their video management systems collect data and can give real-time congestion alerts to citizens via an app, helping them navigate through less congested areas. Such technology which is already in use can also be used in India and even improved upon.
Building a secure data collection infrastructure
With a population of over 1.35 billion people, Indian cities can be a nightmare to monitor and a challenge for security personnel to react to incidences in a timely manner. An open VMS platform can be coupled with innovative tech already available today, such as data analytics, sound detection, and behavioural analytics can be used to protect everything from critical infrastructure to public transportation hubs and other public venues where people gather in mass numbers.
The European city of Sofia in Bulgaria, for example, decided to upgrade their video network in 2018 to better secure their borders and citizens. The upgrade project helped reduce incident response times and allowed security professionals to stop suspicious behaviour before it turned into a more serious incident. Such a solution could be so useful for cities in India too.
Aside from security, data collection is another consideration. Collecting data will be one of the most crucial aspects of designing and managing smart cities, after all data is the new oil, and CCTVs equipped with the right VMS will be one of the fundamental methods used to collect large amounts of it. This data can be used by policy planners to provide better services to citizens.
Cities can also significantly cut down on pollution levels by promoting travel on public transit systems like buses, trains, and metros. During a pandemic, VMS tech like proximity identification, crowd counting, and mask detection can be leveraged to ensure that social distancing and masking guidelines are being adhered to at crowded stations. At the same time all this technology with video can be leveraged for advanced threat detection and crisis management situations to increase passenger safety. All these can be done in a privacy conscious manner, with responsible companies and technology partners who believe in protecting the privacy of people with masking tools and non-intrusive capacity sensing.
The future of smart cities and VMS related technologies
Thanks to the wildly innovative Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, smart city technologies are optimizing infrastructure, mobility, public services, and utilities. For instance, IoT sensors will prove critical in assimilating data that will help bolster this transformation; turning them into inter-connected hubs that allow businesses and citizens alike to connect, collaborate and exchange data and have access to resources almost instantaneously around the world.
Additionally, IoT and VMS capabilities can be coupled to form a formidable network of advanced sensors that will significantly improve security and security-related processes in many areas and industries.
AI and video analytics software may also be leveraged for uses in the future that is beyond our reach currently. For example, we may be able to use specialized sensors, deep learning algorithms and computer vision software to provide real-time data to an autonomous vehicle network that makes road accidents an anachronism of the past, and even provide crucial data that will help enable new business models and the creation of new services.
Cameras are already sophisticated with hardware and software enhancements like night vision capabilities and 360-field aiding in the capture of equally complex visual data. These enhancements will only grow more sophisticated and complex with the advancements in technology going forward. Integrating VMS solutions to these sophisticated systems will be paramount in heightening observation capabilities, rapid access to information, and responsiveness in decision-making.
In leveraging these technologies, businesses benefit not only with continuity, but a host of other benefits. However, these benefits will only be actualized when businesses prioritize data privacy and the well-being of consumers.
In a world where technology and security go together, we must redouble our efforts to pave the way for secure and responsible video technology use. Responsibility and security must be pivotal when innovating for a better and smart future as the onus is on us to ensure technology serves humanity, not the other way around.