Business challenge

Always looking for ways to improve the lives of its citizens, Miami-Dade County set its sights on developing smarter operations to improve public safety, parks management, transportation and more.


Miami-Dade County built an intelligent operations center to monitor data from all its departments—harnessing extensive video and sensor networks to boost public safety and optimize operations.



law enforcement responsiveness with real-time crime alerts


rise in arrest rates with predictive modeling of crime patterns

USD 1 million

saved in one year through intelligent water management

Business challenge story

Targeting intelligent operations

Miami-Dade County is one of the largest counties in the United States, comprised of 34 municipalities and home to more than 2.6 million people. Managing such a geographically large and populous county efficiently and cost-effectively is a constant challenge for the local governing body.

The county is always looking for new ways to make Miami-Dade a better place for citizens to live, and it realized that there was an excellent opportunity to enhance its services by developing smarter ways to utilize the vast amounts of data that it generates and collects in its day-to-day operations.

In particular, given the wide range of public services within its remit, the county recognized that if it could effectively centralize and share information between its various departments, then it could achieve significant improvements throughout county operations, especially in public safety.

Carmen Suarez, Division Director of Enterprise Architecture Services at Miami-Dade County, explains: “We have 26 different departments that each manage a different aspect of the county, for example law enforcement, transportation, and parks and recreation. We knew that certain departments had data that would be particularly valuable to other departments, but we lacked an effective way to share information.

“We were generating huge volumes of data internally, and we had ample opportunity to collect even more from new sources, such as traffic and security cameras throughout the county. All we were missing were the tools to help us leverage this data to the fullest.”

IBM is helping us make Miami-Dade a better, safer place to live, work, and visit. We’ve been able to make exceptional advances in law enforcement and public safety. Take cameras for instance: we’re using IBM Video Analytics to recognize suspicious events and generate alerts.

Carmen Suarez, Division Director of Enterprise Architecture Services, Miami-Dade County

Transformation story

Making the most of the data with IBM

The first step for Miami-Dade County was to find a technology partner that could help turn its vision of building a smarter county into a reality.

“We’ve been an IBM® Cognos® shop since the late 90s,” says Carmen Suarez. “So when we decided to expand into the smarter cities arena, IBM was the natural choice. We like IBM’s smarter cities framework because it really is a framework. It’s not just a conglomeration of different disjointed products—everything works together as a suite.”

Miami-Dade County started by implementing IBM Intelligent Water to track water leaks in parks. The solution was designed to alert park managers whenever a leak was detected, minimizing water waste and cutting costs.

“We saved over USD 1 million in the first year after we began using the new water management solution,” comments Carmen Suarez. “And we were able to divert that money to other services that we previously struggled to fund. That success gave us the confidence to begin working on similar solutions for our other business lines.

“Interestingly, the leak detection system wasn’t only useful for our parks department—it also alerted our police department to a variety of crimes. For example, we had incidents where people were stealing valuable copper piping from our sprinkler systems, and one group was even diverting water from a nearby park to run their car-washing business!

“We already had plans to develop more intelligent law enforcement, and this was a great indication of the kind of thing that would become possible when we started truly making the most of our data.”

Miami-Dade County decided to build a real-time crime center based on IBM Intelligent Operations Center. The solution gathers and analyzes real-time data-streams from numerous departments and systems across the county, including traffic and security cameras via the Internet of Things. When it detects suspicious activity, it raises alerts for operators in the crime center, so they can determine the best course of action quickly. Information is displayed in intuitive visualizations and dashboards, making it easy to interpret and act upon.

Carmen Suarez says: “With IBM Intelligent Operations Center as the foundational data hub, we’ve been able to make exceptional advances in law enforcement and public safety. Take cameras for instance: we’re using IBM Video Analytics to recognize suspicious events and generate alerts. Let’s say someone jumps over a park fence when the park is closed; IBM Video Analytics carries out object detection—to make sure it’s a human, not a cat—to determine whether the activity is suspicious and worth investigating further. All the analysis and alert generation happens automatically, so law enforcement can take immediate action without having to manually review hours of footage from every video feed.”

The county has also integrated a third party gunfire detection solution called ShotSpotter with the IBM Intelligent Operations Center software. Using microphones embedded in street cameras in high-crime neighborhoods, ShotSpotter can detect the sound of gunshots, triangulate their origin, and relay the information through the real-time crime center—enabling officers to get to the scene faster, and be better prepared to protect citizens from potentially dangerous situations.

The IBM Intelligent Operations Center is additionally integrated with Miami-Dade County’s existing IBM Cognos Analytics solution. “We’ve used Cognos software for many years to generate all kinds of reports. Now, the data we’re collecting in the Intelligent Operations Center feeds directly into those reports, giving management a more detailed and up-to-date view of the county,” says Suarez.

She adds: “The new features of the latest version of Cognos Analytics are very powerful, especially the new visualization capabilities, which really make it easy to turn data into a range of graphical formats that are easy to understand at a glance.”

Results story

Boosting public safety and quality of life

Today, Miami-Dade County has an unprecedented wealth of data at its fingertips, and the tools to take advantage of it. For example, law enforcement is able to carry out crime analysis and create predictive models using IBM SPSS® software. This helps identify crime hotspots, and generates leads for investigations by linking new reports to known criminal parties with the same modus operandi. Carmen Suarez remarks: “Since we’ve started analyzing crimes with IBM SPSS, we’ve seen a six percent improvement in arrest rates.”

Following the success of IBM Intelligent Operations Center in Miami-Dade’s real-time crime center, the county has set in motion a plan to use the platform as the foundation for reporting, analysis and data sharing across the entire county, encompassing all 26 departments.

“We’re already embarking on a program of improvements to our public transportation network,” explains Carmen Suarez. “We’re using analytics to tackle the bus-bunching issue—where multiple buses on a route get to the same stop at the same time, instead of arriving at timetabled intervals. We use IBM SPSS to generate models that can predict when bus bunching might occur, and that information feeds into IBM Intelligent Operations Center. An hour before bunching is predicted, operators receive an alert so they can take action to prevent it.”

Similarly, Miami-Dade County is using IBM SPSS to determine the optimal distribution of resources for its fire department. “We have some specialized fire engines and emergency trucks designed to address specific situations,” says Carmen Suarez. “But their number is limited so it’s essential that we locate them where they are most likely to be needed. IBM SPSS helps us predict where each asset will be most valuable, and we can coordinate resource allocation accordingly through IBM Intelligent Operations Center.

“The potential improvements to the county that IBM Intelligent Operations Center can deliver are extensive, and the more lines of business we integrate, the more shared data will be available for informing and enhancing decision-making across departments.”

Looking to the future, Miami-Dade County hopes to combine IBM Intelligent Operations Center with cognitive IBM Watson® services. The organization is already trialing a solution called AVA, or Automated Virtual Assistant, which it has built using IBM Watson conversational technology, to augment its call centers by providing a chat-bot on its internet portal that can cognitively assess users’ questions and look up appropriate responses.

The next step for AVA is to integrate it into the county’s call center systems directly, using the IBM Watson Speech to Text and Text to Speech services to understand callers’ questions and reply in spoken language. Longer-term, the ambition is to provide multi-language support to help the county’s large Spanish-speaking and Creole-speaking populations too.

“By integrating the various big data, cognitive, predictive and Internet of Things analytics together on the IBM Intelligent Operations Center platform, we will be able to get a good idea of what’s going on everywhere in the county in near real-time—this will be a huge benefit for public safety.”

Carmen Suarez concludes: “IBM Intelligent Operations Center is helping us make Miami-Dade a better, safer place to live, work, and visit. Our law enforcement and fire departments are better informed and more responsive than ever, and as our lines of business become more efficient and cost-effective, we can reinvest the savings to improve our services even further.”

Miami-Dade County

The most populous county in Florida, Miami-Date County is home to over 2.6 million people and spans more than 2,000 square miles, including the city of Miami and the Everglades National Park.

Solution Components

  • IBM Intelligent Operations Center on IBM SmartCloud
  • Video Analytics
  • Watson Studio & Modeler

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