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The Digital Era of Public Safety is Here: How Smart Solutions are Empowering the public

Aarogya Setu, India’s open source “contact tracing, syndromic mapping and self-assessment” mobile app reached 100MM+ installs in just over 40 days. The app also became the fastest-growing mobile app beating global favorite Pokémon-Go.  

This is exactly what we are witnessing on a global scale. Governments, and even sometimes smart citizens, are increasingly turning to digital solutions for age-old civic issues. 

We have taken it upon ourselves to explore how some new-age technologies are turning out to be the cornerstones of the modern public safety discourse. 

Public Safety and the Role of Internet of Things  

With the massive growth of devices like traffic cams and sensors around the world, IoT has taken a huge leap in government adoption. 

Data generated by IoT-enabled sensors are used to qualify the structural integrity of old bridges, dams, gas pipelines etc. 

IoT devices such as bus stop displays, connected billboards, or road displays are routinely used to display public warning messages. The ubiquityof these displays goes a long way in warning the public of potential natural calamities or terrorist attacks.  

COVID-19 has also led to a spurt in the adoption of IoT solutions for public safety. The fact that these sensors can be fitted anywhere and data from them accessed remotely is a big boon for disaster management agencies. IoT devices are being modified and deployed to support ground-level healthcare workers and large hospitals. 

However, IoT networks are prone to cybersecurity issues. Bad actors are always looking to exploit points of vulnerability. The huge number of connected devices could also generate a flood of input data and potentially congest the network. 

IoT product and service providers have always been ready to serve enterprise demands. But their focus should now be on partnering with public and government agencies to accelerate the integration and deployment of such use cases. 

Predicting Challenges to Public Safety with Advanced Analytics  

Public safety organizations are generating and consuming huge volumes of data. An encouraging change is that globally, the use of analytics by law enforcement agencies has enabled them to deliver more value for public safety.  

Here is an interesting fact:Pennsylvania cut crime by 42% in the last four years using analytics whilst bigger cities such as Memphis has seen crime reduce by 28%, saving the Memphis Police Department $7.2 million in the process.1 

PredPol, a software that allows for policing using predictive analytics has already found takers in the US and England. The software claims to identify crime hotspots using ML models and historical data sets that use crime type, crime location and crime date as its data points. 

One of the key touted benefits is the allocation of patrolling staff to manage resources efficiently. 

As the frequency of natural calamities keeps increasing, predictive data analytics is turning out to be deciding factor in how well stakeholders can respond to them.  

A multilayered approach with geographical data, real-time images, and dangers associated with a specific calamity helps map out hotspots in a country.  

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning for Intelligent Threat Analysis 

ShotSpotter, an AI-powered tool that helps agencies detect gunshots is a prime example of AI helping public safety. 80% of gunshots go unreported in the US! 

At the Kruger National Park in South Africa, ShotSpotter is also used identify and reprimand poachers.  

If you’re still not impressed, then this might help: In 2018, the UK Home Office revealed a new AI tool that can detect 94% of ISIS propaganda with over 99% accuracy. The tool is integrated with the video upload process and prevents potentially extremist material from going viral on the internet.  

After the devastating floods of 2018, the Indian government partnered with Google to leverage AI and geo-spatial mapping to develop and flood warning system. The system is still in early-adoption stage, but the results are very promising. 

Behavioral analysis using AI is finding increasing usage among police forces. In Japan, AI is used to spot and identify abandoned objects and to mark people behaving suspiciously at large gatherings and public places.  

AI startups mushrooming globally around specific use cases are finding it very easy to find customers. This is evident in how easy it is to get funding if you are an AI startup.  

In 2020 alone, 100 AI startups have raised over $7.4B in funding across 300+ deals from 600+ unique investors, despite the lull in general business deals due to Coronavirus. 

Blockchain: Building Blocks of Govtech 

Despite the bad press that blockchain received due to cyptocurrency scams, the technology has matured enough to be seriously considered as an aid for public safety. 

The “immutability” of information stored in the blockchain is being used by LEAs to safeguard digital evidence. Evidence such as 911 calls, police bodycam footage and traffic stops can be store in blockchain without worrying about data corruption – accidental or otherwise. 

At the root of several blockchain startups is identity management. Accurately capturing and storing a person’s identity, case evidences, and legal documents are at the cornerstone of delivering justice.  

However, infrastructure and budget are significant hurdles to largescale adoption of blockchain in public endeavorsThe global justice and law enforcement system generates terabytes of sensitive information. Service providers who can crack the code and deliver blockchain solutions to governments have a large reward waiting for them.  

An Opportunities Galore 

It is clear from the above use cases that governments and public sector organizations are implementing a wide array of technologies to enhance public safety. Post-pandemic, investments in digital solutions are poised to grow exponentially. Service providers should identify niche value propositions to pitch to different public sectors and capitalize on this positive sentiment.  

Understanding pain points and aligning them with opportunities will be key. Some technology areas showing trends of major opportunities include: 

  • Business Intelligence & Data warehousing solutions,  
  • Enterprise Application Integration & Middleware solutions 
  • Robotic Process Automation 
  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning and 
  • Geographical Information Systems 

Draup has been tracking the technology shift in public sector in real time to identify partnership opportunities for service providers. Draup’s account intelligence, business intentions and digital themes dashboard analysis enables service providers to identify new-age opportunities in the public sector ecosystem