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Though a smart city's name makes people concerned about safety, being surveilled might turn into a favour.

Published: August 6, 2021 By Hamna Imran

 Are Smart cities for our safety?

Image source - Shutterstock

IHS Markit, an industry research organization, released a report that by the end of 2021, the number of cameras used for surveillance will exceed 1 billion, nearly 30% more than the current 770 million cameras. To put a cherry on top, China still accounts for above 50% of the total volume.

Is the most camerized city a smart city? We will answer it in detail, but the important point is that if a city is not based on personal and public safety principles, even the most intelligent applications don’t mean anything.

So how many of us are being monitored? Stick around to know that.

 

Most camerized city

The ubiquitous security cameras may confuse some people because they represent a decline in privacy; however, some people believe that the presence of cameras increases security.

A recent study by Surfshark revealed that Chennai is the world’s leading city in terms of CCTV camera density. It has 657 CCTV cameras per sq.km.. While Taiyuan's total cameras are highest, 465,255 CCTVs, as per Comparitech results.

China has at least 200 million cameras. According to Comparitech's latest analysis, video surveillance in Chinese cities is at the highest level in the world. London and Indore are the other two cities in the top ten.

The top 15 most surveilled cities in the world cameras per person
City; Country
Total number of cameras for the entire population
The number of cameras per 1,000 people
Taiyuan, China
465,255 cameras-3,975,985 people
117.02 cameras-1,000 people
Wuxi, China
300,000 cameras-3,315,113 people
90.49 cameras-1,000 people
London, England (UK)
691,000 cameras-9,425,622 people

73.31 cameras-1,000 people

Indore, India
200,600 cameras-3,113,445 people
64.43 cameras-1,000 people
Changsha, China
262,000 cameras-4,694,722 people
55.81 cameras-1,000 people
Beijing, China
1,150,000 cameras-20,896,820 people
55.03 cameras-1,000 people
Hangzhou, China
400,000 cameras-7,845,501 people
50.98 cameras-1,000 people
Qingdao, China
262,000 cameras-5,742,486 people
45.62 cameras-1,000 people
Kunming, China
200,000 cameras-4,550,831 people
43.95 cameras-1,000 people
Xiamen, China
150,000 cameras-3,790,792 people
39.57 cameras-1,000 people
Harbin, China
250,000 cameras-6,526,439 people
38.13 cameras-1,000 people
Hyderabad, India
375,000 cameras-10,268,653 people
36.52 cameras-1,000 people
Suzhou, China
270,000 cameras-7,427,096 people
36.35 cameras-1,000 people
Shanghai, China
1,000,000 cameras-27,795,702 people
35.98 cameras-1,000 people
Urumqi, China
160,000 cameras-4,543,684 people
35.21 cameras-1,000 people
 

What about Crimes?

Even today, crimes are bothersome. Because CCTV cameras cannot yet monitor and detect every move, as in most instances, cameras are in a fixed position—and advanced facial recognition technology is not universal.

Physical crimes

Current crime index of highly surveilled cities

The main arguments in support of video surveillance are to improve law enforcement and crime prevention. We compared the number of public surveillance cameras with the crime rate reported by Numbeo based on a survey of visitors to this website. As you can assess from the chart above, more cameras are unlikely associated with a lower crime rate.

Crime is usually the reason for the installation of cameras in cities, but we have not found a connection." Says Rebecca Moody, a researcher with Comparitech.

Generally speaking, more cameras will not necessarily reduce the crime rate.

Factors affecting the impact of CCTV on crime reduction

  • Camera location. The camera must cover the target area completely unobstructed
  • Camera capability. The Cameras should be capable of continuous recording day and night, as well as multiplexing (the ability to link recordings from different cameras to specific events) to be able to take high-resolution photos and be able to pan, tilt and zoom. The new camera provides additional benefits of license plate recognition and facial recognition.
  • Camera robustness. The camera system must always be able to withstand severe weather conditions and must be monitored by a closed-circuit television system.
  • Control room capability. The room should have a sufficient number of monitors to display high-resolution images from CCTV cameras in real-time. The facility operator should be able to control any CCTV camera at will. The system software should include any firewall and/or artificial intelligence to help the operator identify threats/risks and track suspicious and suspicious vehicles. In addition, the control room should have a communication system to facilitate communication with the police and other authorities.
  • Police/law enforcement response. Police/law enforcement agencies must have the ability and organizational mechanism to respond quickly and professionally to related incidents detected by CCTV operators/systems.
  • Public perception of effectiveness. The public using CCTV guidelines should be aware that CCTV can improve public safety in these areas.
  • Budget provision. For the sustainability of the video surveillance system, the city management department must provide the necessary funds in the annual budget and for the maintenance, modernization and expansion of the video surveillance system; including law enforcement and data analysis.”
  • Relationship management. All relevant major stakeholders should maintain cordial working relationships.

People’s opinions differ on whether the increased prevalence of video surveillance makes society safer or infringes the right to privacy and freedom of movement or both. No matter which side you agree with, Global surveillance is increasing exponentially, so you can no longer stay anonymous on the Internet.

Generally speaking, more cameras will not necessarily reduce the crime rate.

Cybercrimes

Cybersecurity’s most crucial element is physical security – they are interdependent. You must protect physical access to cyber assets for them to be secure. Thus, many elements of a smart city must be made cyber-secure e.g. applications.

The potential risk of cyber breaches extends beyond those associated with personal privacy. Let's consider the consequences of a hacked utility or smart app that controls traffic flow. It could easily result in business disruption and potential physical harm to citizens. Also, Deep fake crimes are prevalent in 2021.

Moreover, as concerns around personal privacy grow, city governments and smart city app vendors must demonstrate that maximum cyber (and thus physical) protection is in place.

Smart cities

Cities with the most significant number of CCTV cameras may not be smart cities.

Smart cities use digital and telecommunications technologies to improve the efficiency of traditional networks and services for the benefit of residents and businesses. The growing challenges of urbanization call for the implementation of sustainable development practices, which are promoted by information and communication technology.

The six most important technologies that make up a smart city are:

Smart energy
Transportation
Data
Infrastructure
Mobility
Equipment

The significant risks and inherent complexities of data acquisition, storage and transmission from smart city infrastructure such as smart grids, building automation systems, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Electric Vehicles (EVs), remain largely unaddressed”.(Baig et al. 2017).

Smart city network architectures are likely to need to cater for the ever-increasing volumes of data from a heterogeneous set of interaction devices, sensors, and systems” (Silva et al. 2018).

Infographic on Smart city key features

Feel free to share the code of infographics

<iframe width="574" height="2597" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="overflow-y:hidden;" src="https://cooltechzone.com/sites/default/files/pictures/research/the-kipod/the-kipod-2.jpg"></iframe>

Smart city and IoT

Most of this IoT infrastructure is an intelligent network that connects objects and machines and uses wireless technology and the cloud to transmit data.

The application receives, analyzes, and manages data in real-time to help communities, businesses, and citizens make more informed decisions, thereby improving the quality of life.

Citizens interact with the smart city ecosystem in a variety of ways, including smartphones and mobile devices, connected cars. Contrary to people's belief, pairing devices and data with a city’s physical infrastructure and services can not only cut costs but also improve sustainability.

Smart city or safe city?

So, does a smart city have to be a safe city? Yes, because a smart city cannot be conceptualized without being a safe city.

Smart cities integrate key technologies such as the Internet of Things, big data, sensors, machine learning, and GPS-based applications to significantly reduce threats regarding the security and integrity of citizen data.

The system must be technically strict and have sufficient security mechanisms to prevent data leakage and identify weaknesses.

Blewitt said, "In a smart city, information will increasingly be obtained directly from purposefully deployed sensors or indirectly from sensors deployed for another purpose but which gather and share useful information. With this information, freely exchanged, complex city systems can be managed in real-time and, with sufficient integration, to minimize unintended consequences. As dependence on sensors grows, so too will the need that they are reliable and that the systems to which they are connected will be able to tolerate the inevitable failures.

The defining feature of smart cities is that they are interconnected like modern cars becoming digital gadgets, and the result of greater connectivity is reduced privacy. This situation is called the "cost of luxury" If the benefits of a smart city system have to outweigh the potential weaknesses, this cost must be minimized.

Trend followed by privacy risks of smart cities as per year

As a concept, a smart city is a safer city.

Sensors are essential in a smart city. A smart city has "a wide range of reporting devices such as sensors, visibility devices, and other endpoints that create the data that makes a smart city work”, said Scott Allen, CMO of FreeWave Technologies.

Can smart cities be secured and trusted?

In digital cities, connected cameras, smart road systems, and public safety monitoring systems can provide additional protection and emergency support to assist citizens when needed, but how to protect our smart city from loopholes? How can Smart Cities assist Cybercriminals in extending their Botnets? How do we protect ourselves from hacker attacks, cyber-attacks, and data theft? In a city where multiple participants share information, how can we believe that the participants are who they say they are? How do we know that the data they report is correct and accurate?

The answer lies in physical storage, security authentication, and identity management solutions. Smart cities can only operate if we trust them.

The city should develop a legal framework (by the constitution) and stipulate measures to protect the privacy of video surveillance. The authorities must respond appropriately to citizens’ questions and concerns.

Video surveillance system operators and data analysts must receive professional training and abide by ethics, laws, and regulations; appropriate sanctions and disciplinary measures should be provided for violations of such rules and standards.

In addition, these framework conditions, rules, and standards, as well as information on data protection and storage of closed-circuit TVs, should be made available to the public.

KIPOD

Kipod is the most advanced solution for smart city public safety and law enforcement. Kipod provides real-time video surveillance data search and crime detection through the most advanced machine learning and video content analysis (VCA) algorithms.

Kipod is a collaborative environment for an unlimited number of users from different organizations. It analyzes an unlimited amount of data, uses artificial intelligence, cloud technology, and big data technology to monitor the safety of public places and critical infrastructure, prevent and investigate criminal activities, and counter-terrorism and safe area protection.

With the help of facial recognition systems and smart surveillance software, security cameras can monitor threshold-level risks and alert people when real threats are detected

Infographic on Kipod

Feel free to share the code of infographics

<iframe width="574" height="2597" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="overflow-y:hidden;" src="https://cooltechzone.com/sites/default/files/pictures/research/the-kipod/the-kipod-4.jpg"></iframe>

Conclusion

Fully camerized smart cities are no longer a concept of the future. Though being surveilled induces a surge of insecurity among many people, this trend has come to stay and grow more with time. With proper legislation and suggested systems, a secure smart city can be made a reality.

Do you agree?

Kindly tell me in the comments.

Author
Hamna Imran
Cyber Security student and keen learner, writing articles for several other websites.

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