Difficult Task of Securing Millions of Residents

EMC worldIn cities around the globe, police officers and public safety officials work to ensure the safety of millions of residents—a prospect that must often feel daunting.

With so many people witnessing and experiencing almost daily incidents in their city, a growing number of officials realize the potential benefits of including citizens in public safety initiatives. One of the best ways to do this is through “crowdsourcing,” which involves engaging and enabling private citizens to help public safety professionals address daily hazards and suspicious activities, natural disasters, terror attacks, crime or vandalism by reporting information in a convenient and accessible way using their smartphones. In many programs, citizens can submit such reports anonymously using a laptop or desktop computer.

Several factors have aligned to make now the ideal time to harness the potential of crowdsourcing. More citizens use smartphones and social media than ever before. They go about their daily lives and collect valuable information and video on both routine occurrences—such as traffic-accident-causing delays—and on extraordinary events, such as the Boston Marathon bombing.

Meanwhile, more cities are employing situational management technologies and tired storage including cloud to host the increased demand for storage from high definition security cameras and citizens smart phones. Today’s command-and-control platforms allow officials to gather data from social media sites, anonymous tips and even special public safety apps that enable real-time event reporting and live video streaming directly to first responders.

By leveraging these “eyes on the street,” cities help to create more engaged citizens

Correlating these citizen reports with incoming data from other systems, such as video surveillance, traffic monitoring, gunshot detection sensors, weather reports, etc., allows officials to gain a better understanding of what is happening at any moment, as well as trends that may emerge over time.

By leveraging these “eyes on the street,” cities help to create more engaged citizens, while also gaining intelligence from the public on incidents not limited to 911 emergencies. This helps to improve situational awareness and incident response across a range of incidents. Around the world, crowdsourcing initiatives are being implemented in the form of “see something, report something” campaigns, Amber Alert tips, post-incident evidence gathering and more.

Crowdsourcing is also useful for personal protection and real-time response. For example, several people can simultaneously report that a riot is developing and getting out of control—so then police can respond faster and more effectively.

“To learn more about how Verint is helping clients engage citizens for greater Situational Awareness stop by our booth (#874) in the main exhibit hall.”

About the Author: Eran Wachman