Global Director of Product Marketing, Smart Spaces,
Hitachi Vantara

Cities across the U.S., like many organizations, are seeing shrinking budgets across departments. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that U.S. municipalities that depend heavily on property taxes from office buildings might soon start feeling the pain of declining office building values.


This puts pressure on mayors, police chiefs, operations and facilities heads, CTOs and CIOs and other municipal leaders and their teams. Tighter budgets and retirements of long-time city facilities and operations team members mean such teams often end up being understaffed.

That can make it a challenge for cities and departments to do what they want and need to do. But video intelligence, and the smart spaces it creates, can help cities do more with less.

What is Video Intelligence?

Video is the most abundant source of data but also the most underutilized. Cameras can be placed literally anywhere but, while many cities capture and review video manually, they are not necessarily applying analytics that can extract even more valuable information.

Typically, cities record video and have security guards stare at a video screen all day to see if they can spot a problem. And then the cities or their departments store the video somewhere.

But it is now possible to apply analytics so software can review video to catch bad guys, detect if someone is speeding or there was a car crash, understand how much traffic is on a road or whether a vehicle on a road is a car, truck, or delivery van, for example. Software analytics can do that identification, so a person or team doesn’t have to watch a video monitor all day.

Software analytics also works much faster, more efficiently and effectively than a human could. That allows you to move from being reactive to adopting a proactive, predictive approach.

How Does Video Intelligence Address Limited Resources?

When you have to work with limited resources, you want to make sure you are focused on the problems and situations that need your attention the most. Video intelligence helps with that.

Imagine that you want to understand the amount of traffic and intersection crashes on a road so you can more effectively apply resources to that area. You could use real-time video paired with historical data to see that the road has an abundance of traffic and many intersection crashes the first week of every single month. With that understanding, you might decide to apply a police safety and security resource to that road at that time to mitigate such challenges.

But there are many ways cities and departments can use video intelligence to provide more secure environments for their citizens amid stretched budgets. The Austin Police Department put smart cameras in key locations to do real-time monitoring in an effort to deter criminal activity. The City of Moreno Valley is also using visualization to make the city safer. Now it is able to investigate more and gain greater clarity about, events happening in the city. Steve Hargis, technology services division manager for the City of Moreno Valley, called the video deployment “incredibly effective as a police force multiplier for the department.”

How Can Video Intelligence Optimize Spending and Drive Growth?

Video intelligence is also a valuable tool for city planning. Say you have a $6 million budget to make improvements. If video data shows that there are frequent crashes at an intersection, you may decide to allocate budget to increase street signage, install a stoplight or widen the street.

Forward-looking cities are also using the power of real-time data and predictive analytics to:

  • Eliminate costly truck rolls, and complete inspections in a matter of minutes, via remote monitoring and inspections of public infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Cameras with pan, zoom, tilt, and spin capabilities can now provide a 3D view of infrastructure, eliminating the need to drive out to a site and set up ladders to do inspections.
  • Improve public transit system passenger experiences, optimization and sustainability
  • Optimize traffic flow to alleviate congestion and improve transportation efficiency
  • Streamline parking operations to reduce congestion and enhance parking experiences
  • Understand and optimize the flow of people within cities to allow for better crowd management, improved public spaces and experiences and personalized services

You can also leverage your video intelligence to drive revenues and economic development. For example, your city strategy department could sell analytics to street-side retailers, which can use that intelligence to determine high-traffic areas where they might want to set up shop.

What’s the Best Way to Put Video Intelligence to Work?

Video technology is now widely available, and video intelligence has become highly accurate.

Yet, despite all the value that video intelligence can deliver, many city and departmental leaders and their CIOs, CTOs and IT managers don’t know that this technology exists. And other folks have never been exposed to the depth and breadth of what video intelligence makes possible.

Be aware that video intelligence allows you to allocate city resources in the most effective way. As you move forward with video intelligence, identify your most critical spaces and use cases. Define the goals and KPIs that you want to meet. Figure out what kinds of data you need to collect to meet those goals. And bring together the right people to move your project forward.

That’s a lot to consider. But you don’t have to go it alone. Collaborate with a partner to set strategy, get advice and access, integrate and install all the hardware and software you need.

Avoid adopting a point solution. Point solutions have limited capabilities. Also steer clear of big system integrators as potential partners. Such third parties add significant costs to your project.

Seek an end-to-end partner that supports the full spectrum of video analytics. That way, you will avoid third-party integration costs. You can scale and expand your video intelligence use cases over time. And you can manage all of your video analytics using a single pane of glass.

City management has never been easy, and now new budget constraints are making it even more challenging. But technology such as video analytics can help lighten the load for cities.

Consider how video analytics can work for you as you seek to increase the safety and security of your citizens, assets, and spaces; strategize to make your operations more efficient; and endeavor to improve the experiences of the people and businesses who populate your city.

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