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Surveillance cameraFigures released by the UN seem to speak for themselves: by 2030, over 60% of global population will reside in urban centers. This development is expected to increase even further the overload on critical infrastructure such as water and electricity grids. Additionally, many countries’ debt to GNP ratio has increased, and this is expected to drive poverty rates higher, and consequently, boost crime rates as well. Criminal activities have become increasingly sophisticated over the years. In addition to all these figures, a new report by the INTERPOL concludes that in the course of 2012, an inconceivable quantity of new data estimated at 2.5 billion Gigabyte was created each day. Video streams, pics, docs, emails, text messages and data received from digital sensors: all this is flowing into servers. This flow is expected to increase by another 60% each year until a level of 40 trillion Gigabytes in 2020. It should be noted that 90% of all the data worldwide did not exist two years ago.

These numbers were the talk of the entire convention the INTERPOL recently held at Singapore, comprising over 1800 participants from law enforcement bodies, private sector representatives, academics and scholars, who came from over one hundred countries. The conference focused on current law enforcement challenges as well as on possible solutions for border security, Safe City management and crime prevention.

The vast quantities of data that abound all around us consist of information that may be used to identify security threats both physical and cybernetic, and respond to them. Nevertheless, this data still needs to be processed and identified. Governments across the globe are examining various possibilities of analyzing the data received from sensors (video cameras, simulation devices, license plate identification systems, pressure sensors and much more). This, in addition to the data gathered from social media such as twitter and Facebook. All this is designed to garner intelligence which can be used to prevent unwarranted events.

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The great leap in computer capabilities allows for rapid data integration and analysis. Systems which gather data from numerous sensors spread over a major city are already commonplace. The data they generated is also stored for analysis and study. It can also be sent to Safe City related bodies, thereby enabling rapid response, prevention and suspicious pattern identification. This includes, inter alia, data picked up on the deep web, GPS and cellular networks. The advent of technology means a vital role in safeguarding cities from this point in time onwards. Since municipal services provided to residents increasingly rely on online interfaces, coupled with the rapid reliance of financial institutions and business on online operations, cyber security has become more critical than ever. Systems capable of identifying cyber attacks and taking necessary measures are now more important than ever.

The INTERPOL’s report note that the Video Analytics market is expected to reach a turnover of over one billion USD in 2017. The market for video analytics related cameras has expanded at an annual rate of 27.3% between 2009 and 2013. In Australia, the Victoria Police is already reporting that face recognition technology is assisting in identifying some 6,000 suspects each year.

Additionally, the INTERPOL’s report concluded that the competition between major cities is also engaged in terms of residents’ sense of security. Solutions enabling the authorities to store huge quantities of data and analyze them will be at the heart of the market. Cities which would be wise enough to apply technological solutions to counter various threats in advance, guide personnel in the field and contain events, will reap the rewards of greater personal safety. All cities will face the same challenge of incorporating real time data with analysis capabilities, in order to be able to sustain future mindful policing.