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Smarter Public Safety

Analyzing patterns for safer cities

What do the greatest crimefighters have in common?

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Whether they're on our streets or in our literature, they know how to get inside a criminal's mind, and they seem to have a sixth sense that points out the next emergency hot spot before an event occurs.

With data collection happening everywhere for all kinds of purposes, real-life problem solvers have new ways to enhance their intuition. For solutions to everything from traffic tie-ups to security breeches, public safety agencies can gather disparate, voluminous data and use analytics to derive new insights and uncover trends before they become systemic issues or criminal events.

The IBM Intelligent Operations Center synchronizes and analyzes information gathered from diverse data-collection systems. Patterns revealed through analytics help decision makers anticipate—rather than just react to—problems, and dispatch first responders to the scene faster. The results, such as predictive policing, mean better citizen-centered service...whether minimizing inconveniences, overseeing emergencies or stopping crime.

Safer citizens of a smarter planet.

Arguably, the first duty of a country is to protect its citizens. The question is how to achieve that in an urbanizing world that is becoming more interconnected, fast-paced and unpredictable every day.

In recent years, forward-thinking city managers, police chiefs, fire chiefs and other officials have made great strides in applying innovative, community-based approaches and new technologies to help reduce urban crime and improve emergency response. But the challenges to public safety continue to grow. Fortunately, new capabilities are now at our disposal to help make urban public safety systems not just more connected and efficient, but smarter.

Progressive leaders around the world are undertaking a transformational shift. Instead of merely responding to crimes and emergencies after the fact, they are analyzing, anticipating and actually working to prevent them. They're doing so with smart systems that capture data from myriad instrumented and interconnected processes, devices and objects, and then apply intelligence to this welter of information to detect patterns and take action in real time.

We see it happening today in New York City, where police commanders are using analytics and visualization tools to see crime patterns as they are forming. The city's Real Time Crime Center system can quickly query millions of pieces of information to uncover previously unknown data relationships and points of connection. Integrated crime information analysis, delivered in real time, has helped improve public safety, with a 27% drop in crime since 2001. New York is now ranked as the safest large city in the U.S.

We see it happening in Madrid. Following the terrorist attacks of March 2004, the city developed a new Emergency Response Centre so today, when a citizen witnesses an accident and places an emergency call, the system simultaneously alerts the police, the ambulance service and, if needed, the fire brigade. The smart system can recognize if alerts from several different sources relate to a single or multiple incidents, and assign the right resources based on the requirements coming from the ground.

We see it happening in Poland, where personal and vehicle IDs can be instantly checked in an EU-wide database. The new system has improved police operations, helping to shorten the time for queries, reduce errors and allow police to verify information and uncover potential threats to local and national security, through use at Poland's borders. Overall, the system contributed to a 66% increase in arrest rates for Polish police in 2008.

Finally, we see it happening in Chicago. In the past, video from surveillance cameras was mostly used as evidence after an incident had occurred. Today, 911 dispatchers have access to video from a multitude of cameras citywide, with advanced analytics built into the infrastructure, that are connected to a fiber/wireless network to assist the operator with potential "eyes-on-the-scene" in the vicinity of an incident. The video image they receive helps them dispatch exactly the right services immediately.

IBM is deploying similar systems around the world, and building in methods to protect citizens' privacy by blurring individuals' faces unless an incident is detected—at which point the authorized police personnel can enter a code to see the complete image.

For all cities and regions competing in the global marketplace for work, investment and talent, safety and security are crucial factors in determining overall quality of life. Which is why smarter public safety isn't just a country's responsibility, it's also a priority for the success of businesses, communities and civil society at large.

Let's build a smarter planet.


Bringing policing up to speed in developing economies

Modernizing a police force by employing new technology simply makes good sense, and can even return dramatic positive results. Improving protection of the public is a given. Economic benefits from reducing crime and streamlining information collection and administration are equally important behind the scenes.

In rapidly developing economies, the higher the crime rate relative to operational spending, the greater the potential for improvement, making the business case even stronger. But how can a country justify the cost of technology investments?

In this study from the IBM Center for Applied Insights, learn about the basis for the modernization argument, and read how to begin the process. Read The business case for modernizing policing in rapidly developing economies.


Keeping our cities safe is a critical factor in their economic viability

Public officials are turning to the same technology advances that businesses have been using—autonomic sense-and-respond capabilities, analytics, visualization and computational modeling—to make our public safety systems smarter, and drive a fundamental shift from responding to events to anticipating and preventing them, when possible.

The social side of
Public Safety

Miami: new patterns for cold cases
The Miami-Dade Police Department, which protects 2.5 million citizens in Florida’s largest county, compensates for outdated and disappearing evidence in old cases by using analytics from solved cases to fill in gaps and answer questions on unsolved ones. Working with IBM specialists, their efforts resulted in a lead-modeling tool called Blue PALMS (Predictive Analytics Lead Modeling Software).

Madrid, Spain: lessons from a terrorist attack
Created in the aftermath of the terrorist train bombings on March 11, 2004, the Integrated Security and Emergency Centre (PDF, 179KB) for Madrid coordinates the resources and efforts of the police, fire, highway, hotline and ambulance units, among others. A 90-foot wall of screens displays traffic video from surveillance cameras, maps with GPS data, and the status and location of personnel.

Chicago, U.S.: citywide surveillance
IBM has worked with the city of Chicago to develop Operation Virtual Shield, which is among the most advanced citywide intelligent security systems. Encompassing one of the world's largest video security deployments, Operation Virtual Shield includes large-scale video surveillance and incorporates license plate recognition, advanced search and trending capabilities.

Vancouver, Canada: proactive and predictive policing

Vancouver, Canada: proactive and predictive policing
Criminals capitalize on the breakdown of communication between police jurisdictions. The Vancouver Police Department uses a sophisticated crime management system that allows them to collect and analyze crime-related data and share it with other police agencies in the province. Now more crime fighters uncover trends and accurately predict when and where crimes are likely to occur.