BY DEBORAH L. O’MARA
CONNECTED PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS. The number of integrated systems solutions is rapidly
expanding, bringing data and gathering analytics from more points than ever. Smart and safe cities will continue to
achieve operational and business process improvement from connected devices, including sensors, surveillance and
other technologies. However, moving into this uber-connected scenario comes with challenges.
As the Internet of Things continues to take hold and billions of devices
become networked, concerns mount over hacking, privacy and quality of
life. In Arkansas, for example, prosecutors have issued a warrant to access
an Amazon Echo’s history logs to shed light on a murder case. Recently, the
American Medical Association entered the discussion, issuing guidelines
on LED lighting that warned about potential health and safety issues of
high-intensity street illumination.
In the security industry, “safe cities” have been a hot topic for many
years. In the broadest definition, they incorporate surveillance from
points throughout a city to fusion or emergency management centers
that can interpret and react to data in real time. Safe-city initiatives,
which vary by state, primarily involve public-private partnerships
Audio analytics adds intelligence
Safe cities are all about using technology, such as threat detection and
data analytics, for better public security.
“However, these elements only focus on the visual factors,” said Richard
Brent, CEO, Louroe Electronics, Van Nuys, Calif., an audio security company.
“A truly comprehensive city-security solution must include sound detection,
as audio analytics provides additional situational awareness, proactive
Adding audio to a surveillance solution is the first step in deploying
smart city security.
“These solutions allow for proactive and real-time monitoring in both
According to Brent, sound can be one of the earliest indicators to first
one- and two-way audio,” Brent said. “Security staff can remotely interact
with suspicious persons in real time, rather than needing to physically
dispatch a guard or law enforcement official to the area. However, it is
not enough for a system to just listen. The monitoring solution must lis-
ten intelligently. In other words, a city surveillance system should also be
capable of running audio analytics.”
Audio-analytics technology works similarly to how the human ear
processes sound. When an audio signal comes in, the sound detection
software analyzes the noise based on advanced algorithms and determines
whether it is a match for other sound patterns from preclassified sources.
Once a sound is identified as a positive detection, the software sends an
immediate alert to security staff through the video management system.
These solutions are now network savvy and software-based, so analytics
can be effectively incorporated.
responders that something is wrong.
“Audio analytics are useful to municipalities because they identify
the acoustic events commonly associated with crimes,” he said. “The
information provided by knowing a gunshot was detected or an indi-
vidual was yelling for help is invaluable and, in some cases, could be
the determining factor in effectively responding to and handling a life
or death situation.”
Technology continues to migrate to a multilayered, multifaceted ap-
proach with new projects such as the Array of Things (Ao T) that launched
last fall in Chicago. The Ao T is funded by a $3.1 million grant from the
National Science Foundation (NSF), Arlington, Va., with investments from