Stefan Alfredsson from Axis started Smart City Square by talking about what a smart city actually is. And even if there is no short definition, he offered a great list of smart city objectives that helps to understand the topic better.

A smart city focuses on…

  1. … Efficiency of services, to ensure efficient use of public resources and high level of citizen service.
  2. … Sustainability, to grow & develop the city with strong consideration to environmental impact.
  3. … Mobility, to make it easy to move around in the city, whether by foot, bike, car, public transport etc.
  4. … Safety & security – a city will not be viewed as smart if the citizens don’t feel safe
  5. … Economic growth, to attract visitors, businesses & investors
  6. … City reputation, to constantly improve the city’s image

In short, a smart city has the overall ambition to improve the quality of life in the city or the livability, Stefan says.

Cameras in the Smart City act on real time data

Axis is acting as an enabler for multiple smart city objectives.

With network cameras, we have moved from forensic recordings to real time action, Stefan says.

Stefan Alfredsson, Axis
Stefan Alfredsson, Axis

Within public security, the cameras can be used to alert for threats and incidents, and help operators decide on appropriate response depending on the situation. They are for instance used by many public transit systems, and this way of working is common also at stadiums, airports and in city surveillance.

Stefan mentioned traffic management as another area where connected network cameras are used. Cameras can automatically detect incidents on the roads and based on this information, traffic management centers can change data on digital road signs to divert traffic to avoid serious congestion. Another use is automatic data collection where cameras count the number of cars passing by, in order to provide valuable statistics to traffic engineers.

“There are many other smart camera solutions and things are changing quickly now. In two years a chip will be able to process the double amount of data compared to today, for half the price, Stefan predicted. This is a great opportunity for us, and partly a challenge – for instance when it comes to predicting tomorrow’s smart city use cases and applications”, he continued.

The collaboration between private and public players is a key to success

In order for a Smart City to succeed, many different players need to be involved. Stefan gave the example of Project Green light in Detroit where Detroit Police Department partnered with local businesses who installed real-time camera connections with police headquarters as part of a crime-fighting partnership. In the first 10 months, the amount of crimes was reduced by 50 % with the participating companies.

“The collaboration between public and private actors is something that we see as a success factor for smart cities moving forward”, Stefan commented.

Questions

A big part of the Smart City Square is the exchange of ideas and interaction with the audience. Here are some of the questions from the meeting:

We’ve all been affected by the border controls between Malmö and Copenhagen, could your cameras be helpful here to improve the flow by automatically identifying and clearing regular train commuters?

“We have partners who develop solutions for facial recognition and they are for instance used by casinos, retail stores and public transport projects in different parts of the world. The technology is there, but there is also a challenge of regional laws and regulations, both when it comes to integrity and use of data.”

How can you be sure that the technology in your cameras are not infringing on privacy and integrity?

“We cannot 100% guarantee that. We sell our cameras through partners, and it is finally the end user who is responsible for how the camera is used.”

You have 2500 partners that develop software supporting your cameras, how do you manage this, do you share business models with some of them?

“Well, it is not possible to give all partners the same level of support. We have a development partner program with different loyalty levels, and for the higher levels we collaborate closer when it comes to joint strategies and plans.”

Find out more about Axis

(There was also a big discussion on how business will be affected by the General Data Protection Regulation as of May 2018, you can read more about it here: http://www.eugdpr.org/)

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