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Using surveillance to secure the smart cities of tomorrow

There were a number of presentations around smart cities and IoT at Lenovo’s MWC 19 booth in Barcelona last week, many of which made by companies that the Chinese firm has partnered with recently.

One such organisation is Pivot3, which focuses on designed and creating mission critical IT infrastructures. For their presentation Pivot3 looked at how surveillance can form a vital aspect in the making of a smart city, and in particular unpacked how they were able to do so for the Columbian capital of Bogotá.

Before diving into the case study, Pivot3 explained the process of building an IoT infrastructure, which in a lot of ways mirrors that of building an actual city.

Step by step

To that end a phased approach needs to be adopted, with each needing to be completed in order to ensure the next one can be taken.

According to Pivot3 a smart and secure infrastructure is the first step, which is then followed the necessary network requires, and then the deployment of IoT devices and sensors throughout the ecosystem before finally layering the analytics and software atop it all in order to gain valuable insight into the data harvested.

The role that Pivot3 plays, with the help of Lenovo’s data centre offerings, is being the middle man between the edge devices and sensors gathering data, and the cloud where much of the real-time analytics needs to take place.

Now for the Bogotá use case, which leveraged Pivot3’s surveillance series platform in order to help reduce crime in the city, which has a population of more than 8 million people, and as such provides for a great example in developing nations such as South Africa.

This as the same challenges that Bogotá faces are some that also plague our own cities.

Real world application

According to Pivot3 some of these challenges including shifting from an outdated surveillance infrastructure that had no central monitoring, an unreliable surveillance system and extremely limited space in the server room for camera requirements.

Along with some of the challenges that the surveillance platform was tasked with addressing, Pivot3 also explained some of the ones it encountered on this project.

For one, it took a while to get off the ground, with city officials wanting proof that the solution would indeed work as intended. Add to that the time needed to dig up routes to lay cables for the surveillance cameras, and the project took a little over two years to come together.

It has since been running for 18 months, and Pivot3 notes that it has dramatically reduced the crime rate in the city, although no official statistics have been disclosed. The company also notes that their surveillance is not a crime prevention tool, but rather a deterrent. As such, crimes could still be committed, but the chances of identifying and arresting a criminal a far greater, says Pivot3.

How they did it

So how did Pivot3 achieve all this?

According to the firm it created a Pivot3 / Lenovo hyperconverged infrastructure, which included 30 servers from the latter and 20 storage-only appliances running the former’s intelligence engine.

Next the necessary bandwidth had to be made available, with phase one of the project requiring 5 petabytes of capacity for Bogotá’s central administration. The requirements did not end there, however, with an additional 10PB scheduled for the second and third phases, which would in turn help service all 18 boroughs of the city.

As for the devices necessary for such a system, Pivot3 says an additional 1 700 cameras needed to be added tot he existing 2 000 cameras , along with 200 analytics channels.

Lastly an integrated control centre for centralised administration was put in place.

A local possibility?

The next big question is whether such a surveillance system can be implemented locally, and according to Pivot3 it’s certainly possible. In fact the company has already had prior dealings in the country, liaising with Johannesburg officials recently on another project.

Hopefully then, if there is the political will to use technology and surveillance in particular to better secure or cities and make them smarter, platforms such as Pivot3’s should be in the offing.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

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