Increasing policing effectiveness in Belgrade, Serbia

How the City of Belgrade enhanced public safety with digital technology
by Diana Ost
7-minute read
Serbian capital city at sunset

Challenged with limited resources, the City of Belgrade, Serbia, Police Administration sought a technological solution to expand department efficiency without enlarging the police force.

The City of Belgrade has 28,000 uniformed officers serving a population of 1.6 million residents — and over two million registered passenger cars.

The Belgrade Police Administration needed to make the most of its limited resources, both in human capital and infrastructure. Aging technology and equipment were a challenge for officers and the department as a whole.

Optimizing staff workflow and data capture with a technology-based system would be ideal. To meet these needs, IBM Business Partner Comtrade suggested deploying Apache Kafka, an open-source streaming distribution platform that would be supported by the IBM Cloud Pak® for Integration solution to meet the city’s needs.

Belgrade police officers routinely checked cars’ license registration plates manually during their shifts. The officers would read a plate, make a note of the number, and then check it against a list for lapsed plates, stolen vehicles, blacklisted cars and cars involved in criminal activity. The process was time-intensive and inefficient.

“The challenges that Serbian police face are about maximizing available resources. We needed technology that would help officers process queries faster and, preferably, do so in an automated manner,” says Slavisa Djukanovic, Serbian Police Colonel and BSc of Electro Engineering.

City traffic at night, speed light, long exposure, Belgrade

Belgrade, Serbia is home to about

1.4

million people

The Belgrade police force has

28,000

uniformed officers to support residents

Patrol cars and police officers in the street will gradually become equipped with these cameras.
Nebojša Stefanović
Minister of the Interior, Serbia

Police Administration officials knew that manually checking license plate registrations was not ideal. The angle of view from the cruiser, bad weather or low visibility could force the officer to step out onto a busy road or parking lot to read the plate. Checking plates in moving traffic was nearly impossible. Finally, officers could only record so many registration plates manually during their shifts.

The Police Administration needed an automated system with cameras, workstations and a method to scan, save and store registration plate data. It was also important for the system to interface with the data center at headquarters.

Parking lot at night
Silhouette Of Trees at Sunset
With the help of IBM Business Partner Comtrade and Apache Kafka, the city found the answer to their requirements.
Slavisa Djukanovic
Serbian Police Colonel and BSc of Electro Engineering
Challenge accepted — and met
With the help of IBM Business Partner Comtrade and Apache Kafka, the city found the answer to their requirements.
Slavisa Djukanovic
Serbian Police Colonel and BSc of Electro Engineering

With assistance from IBM Business Partner Comtrade, the City of Belgrade did an analysis of AI and data management systems. As a result, the city chose the IBM Cloud Pak for Integration solution, which allows it to gather data from different sources, and collect, distribute and process the data in real time. The city also selected Apache Kafka to connect to data feeds and allow people and systems to react to events in real time.

“With the help of IBM Business Partner Comtrade and Apache Kafka, the city found the answer to their requirements,” says Djukanovic.

The Comtrade team designed a system especially for the city, comprising two subsystems. The first is a cruiser-based subsystem that consists of cameras software, and workstations. The second is a subsystem installed at the Ministry of the Interior’s data center to handle the data storage and processing, among other tasks. The two systems communicate via an internet connection.

Comtrade built the first subsystem, the mobile workstations, by combining modern hardware with the most advanced elements of AI. The workstations connect to the cruiser-mounted cameras, and include scanning software, a tablet PC, a mobile router to connect to the internet and a car radio terminal. The workstations can store data locally and send the data to the data center for storage or more processing via an internet connection.

The second subsystem is installed at the Police Administration’s data center and is used for data storage, processing and communications. The subsystem uses Red Hat® OpenShift® containers for storage, Apache Kafka for processing and communication, and the IBM® DataPower® Gateway for mobile, web, API and cloud workloads.

Belgrade has successfully expanded police capabilities

The City of Belgrade Police Administration now has a custom-designed camera and registration plate scanning system created especially for the city.

By basing the new system on IBM technology with IBM Cloud Pak for Integration, the city can apply a hybrid approach to data management with AI. With IBM Cloud Pak for Integration, the city also has the capability to use APIs, connect to cloud and existing on-premises applications, reliably move data with enterprise messaging, and deliver real-time event interactions — all with end-to-end enterprise-grade security and encryption.

The new custom workstations built by Comtrade are installed in Belgrade’s official police vehicles. The data storage and processing system, built on IBM Cloud Pak for Integration with Apache Kafka, is located in the Ministry of the Interior’s data center. The two systems have the capability to work together and store and process the data into reports in real time.

The camera systems installed in the police cruisers provide officers with easy, fast and efficient vehicle registration plate scanning from multiple angles. Scanning the registration plates is faster, more accurate and more efficient than writing down numbers by hand. With Apache Kafka technology, the city gained real-time event streaming to support officers when scanning and recording license registration plates.

Officers can easily use the automated system to scan vehicle license registration plates, even when one — or both — vehicles are on the move in traffic. Most of the time, officers can scan auto registration plates from their police cruisers without having to exit their vehicles, which increases officer safety.

The license registration plate scanning system and accompanying data storage and processing system have improved the information and communication capacity and operational work of the police. City of Belgrade officers are more efficient and are able to do more work with less effort, which can enhance citizen’s safety.

City of Belgrade, Serbia logo
About City of Belgrade, Serbia

The City of Belgrade, SerbiaExternal Link is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The first record of the city name was in 878. Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, and is an important crossroads in Europe as a road and railway center and as a port for river traffic. The Belgrade Police Administration is responsible for the safety of Belgrade’s 1.6 million residents, including traffic control and fighting crime.

About Comtrade

IBM Business Partner ComtradeExternal Link uses the latest solutions and its deep domain knowledge to help businesses accelerate and simplify deployment of new technologies. Headquartered in Belgrade, Serbia, Comtrade partners with top global vendors as a service provider to help each customer receive high-quality IT solutions. Comtrade stands at the forefront of outstanding system integration.

Solution components
City of Belgrade, Serbia logo
About City of Belgrade, Serbia

The City of Belgrade, SerbiaExternal Link is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The first record of the city name was in 878. Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, and is an important crossroads in Europe as a road and railway center and as a port for river traffic. The Belgrade Police Administration is responsible for the safety of Belgrade’s 1.6 million residents, including traffic control and fighting crime.

About Comtrade

IBM Business Partner ComtradeExternal Link uses the latest solutions and its deep domain knowledge to help businesses accelerate and simplify deployment of new technologies. Headquartered in Belgrade, Serbia, Comtrade partners with top global vendors as a service provider to help each customer receive high-quality IT solutions. Comtrade stands at the forefront of outstanding system integration.

Solution components