Technology for safer cities: Latin Trade Citizen Security roundtable in Brazil

Advanced technologies deployed in tackling crime serve as the stepstone to transform cities into smart cities. Computer vision, cybersecurity, sensors, crowdsourcing and 5G can be used to cut car theft by 95%, and to get the largest reduction in homicides in the country in just a few months, as was the case in the Brazilian state of Ceará.

The same tools can be fully used to integrate government and private agencies to spot, for instance, places of high concentrations of youths to control gang violence, and also to plan new schools and to generate innovative inclusion opportunities for them.

Video and sound sensors tied to government databases and linked to sophisticated data analytics algorithms render profound results in crime reduction, and in many other vital urban management tasks. This is one of the conclusions drawn by experts attending the latest Latin Trade Citizen Security private roundtable.

This roundtable gathered 10 Brazilian secretaries of security, experts from Dell Technologies, Intel, Intelligent Security Systems (ISS) and the World Bank. The conversation was moderated by the former representative of Rolls-Royce for South America, Francisco Itzaina.

A dual role

Licenses for street vendors in Florianópolis were frequently forged. Face recognition algorithms completely eliminated the need to have a paper license. In the healthcare realm, this technology can spot large concentrations of un-masked people and predict future surges in Covid contagion.

“Cameras are just sensors,” ISS’s CEO, Aluisio Figuereido pointed out. Sensors are part of a fuller scheme, where data is analyzed automatically connecting images to all other information available at any city mayor’s office. From vehicle registration to garbage disposal routes, to public works projects and prison records. Fast integration of data into clear patterns provides valuable information to government agents on the ground, whether they’re police, firefighters, ambulances or social workers.

Experts considered many real-life obstacles to building technology-driven smart and safe cities. Aspects like financing and ways to avoid hardware obsolescence were examined alongside strategies for homicide reduction.

Data storage and processing capabilities were also central elements in the discussion. The volume of information generated by these systems is massive. In Ceará, for instance, cameras read, process, and store 250 million license plates per month. Secretaries of Security offered examples of efficient, geographically layered data analysis and reaction structures to deal with this problem.

There was a second area of consensus. Technology to back a cohesive police approach is not the answer to safer cities in the long run. In the short run, it undoubtedly does save lives, but long term, a technologically coordinated task among government agencies and private players is needed to create a better environment for citizens to peacefully coexist.


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