Smart cities combine ubiquitous computing and urban management, and are characterized by pervasive wireless networks and distributed sensor platforms from video surveillance to meteorological stations, monitoring flows from traffic to sewerage and providing information in real-time or in anticipation of risks. These have extended from shopping / business complexes with integrated building control systems combining video surveillance, fire detection and crowd flow monitoring or other kinds of customer tracking, through larger but temporary initiatives like the command and control systems established for sports mega-events, to permanent whole-city .

There are larger number of surveillance CCTV devices being installed and will be installed as part of the smart city projects.  Video surveillance can be used to monitor traffic, and, over the long term, lower cases of people breaking the law. General placement criteria that are  being followed are when surveillance equipment enhances:

  • Protection of individuals, equipment and facilities
  • Monitoring of public areas
  • Monitoring of building entrances and exits
  • Investigation of criminal activity

Today’s CCTV cameras are smart. Moment they find someone breaking a red light, for instance, today’s camera can automatically zoom in, take a picture, and send it to the concerned authority, who can, in turn, use it as proof.

Surat City  is a case in point to understand how video surveillance can be effectively used for citizen service. It is the only city in India which has deployed 104 state-of-the-art cameras in 23 locations and is planning to deploy many more. This makes Surat the first Indian city to have a modern, real-time CCTV system, with eye-tracking software and night vision cameras, along with intense data analysis capabilities that older systems lack. Surat also has the largest video wall in the country, measuring 280 square feet, to supervise videos generated by the surveillance cameras. Similar systems are planned for cities across India, from Delhi to Punjab, even those that already have older CCTV programs in place.

But like with all technologies, this might also have a downside. Smart cities will generate enormous amounts of sensitive data. Securing that data and preventing it from privacy breaches will be a challenge. However, there are measures by which data security can be ensured.

To standardize video surveillance of smart cities, there should be ” Digital Surveillance Policy” at a National Level to standardize the use of surveillance information in the city. This policy should cover the following aspects:

  • All Public Areas within the City should be covered under Security Surveillance giving protection to individuals, public assets and facilities.
  • Store Licensing should include CCTV (IP Multicast based) devices as mandatory requirement for attaining license for operations so as to monitor activities in malls, departmental stores, bars and other places.
  • All surveillance(CCTV) devices should be connected to fog computing and recording should be on a local and free secured cloud server.
  • Standards for Surveillance device (CCTV) should be pre-defined to obviate inter-operatability and security problems at a later stage.
  • Surveillance devices (CCTV Camera) mounting, angles, blind spot etc. should be adhered.
  • Surveillance devices (CCTV Camera inside entire Smart City should IPv6 addressable, with direct addressing for ease of monitoring and management.
  • Outage and repair of Surveillance devices (CCTV Camera) is shop owner’s responsibility and ensure SLA for uptime of devices.
  • Geo sensors and Surveillance devices (CCTV Camera) control software should be integrated using Internet of Things (IoT).
  • In case of any user activating Panic Button, it should have the following sequence of event i.e. if panic button is pressed, a software should trigger an alert to local police with a snapshot of CCTV in that vicinity and vehicle number plates entering and leaving the premise.
  • Data Retention Policy. Video recordings should be retained for a limited amount of time based on digital storage capacity.  There must be approval obtained for critical areas with to retain recorded footage past this time-frame in connection with an investigation of an incident.
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