When it comes to public safety and emergency management, guessing isnt acceptable. Thats why smart cities are using smart solutions intelligent data and powerful analytics to ensure the protection of their residents.
The right expertise can transform masses of data into insight that improves the decision-making process for public safety and emergency management officials, while also increasing efficiency by making better use of allocated resources.
The data behind the scenes allow those that are responsible and accountable for public safety to get as much information as they can so they can make an accurate decision on what to do, said Dr Gary Nestler, subject matter expert at IBM. It also eliminates the guesswork and allows everybody to predict what can potentially happen as a result of the decisions that are being made.
For Nestler, anticipating or even predicting outcomes of possible events is an important tool in planning responses to them. That requires intelligent analysis of historical and current data to recognize patterns. Integrating all of this information in a smart way is the challenge, he said.
The use of technology to break down data is wonderful if used right, and really bad if used wrong, he said. What IBM has is predictive analytics that can integrate the information and project trends, Nestler added.
Increasing Efficiency in Disaster Response
Once a city has these analytics, the advantage in public safety and emergency management becomes clear.
The use of these solutions and services really do increase the efficiency and the time it takes to prepare for, mitigate against, respond to and recover from any sort of disaster, Nestler said.
So what do these solutions look like in action?
Through this type of technology, if there was a catastrophic fire and power goes out, [the technology will] tell you all the other assets that were affected so that you dont send someone to the wrong hospital when their doors are closed or they cant operate, Nestler said. Because you cant operate without water and you cant operate without power. Thats why big data and predictive analytics can really give you that composite, or common operating picture, so that you can coordinate actions in a more informed way.
Breaking Down Boundaries
Making the most appropriate decision means getting real-time data during an event. With IBMs technology, agencies, city officials and other organizations can be interlinked in a collaborative way so that they receive cohesive, pertinent and timely information. The ability to deliver data across organizational boundaries is an important factor in how efficiently responders can react.
If you have a power outage, for example, then interdependency is key, Nestler said. You have to let your hospitals know they will be without power for X amount of time; you have to alert water, transportation, fire, police, public works, finance, mayors, private ambulance services, airports, train stations and so on. Youve got to somehow communicate with them. We couldnt get on that many phones if we tried. And how do you do it when you dont have power? Interdependency is key.
The Role of Citizens
While cities work on improving their public safety and emergency management systems through smart data and smart analytics, citizens will continue to have an important role to play, according to Nestler.
In the next five to 10 years, citizens will begin to have a true understanding of what they need to do so that they dont waste time or resources, he said, citing the increased accessibility of data through devices such as smartphones. Look what happens now during a hurricane. How many people run to the store to get milk, bread and all of that stuff, and when the storm doesnt hit, what happens to all of those commodities? Theyre wasted.
If citizens had more precise data about the storm, its intensity and the availability of assistance and commodities, he noted, they could be more efficient when preparing for and responding to such events.
While data analytics has become an important tool in improving public safety and emergency management, its also helping law enforcement better protect citizens.
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