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Innovative Solutions are Making Smart Cities, Safer Cities

First Published in IFSEC Global

Technological advancements are facilitating increased efficiency of resources in critical infrastructure and commercial, residential and municipal buildings more and more these days. This is in response to some staggering statistics. 1.3 million people move into cities every week and, by 2045, 65 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, according to the United Nations. The development of our world’s urban areas is an opportunity for them to become smart cities. With that, they can also become safer cities. 

Suppliers of fire and security systems are critical to this transition, whether through providing the latest, state-of-the-art systems in new buildings or developing bespoke solutions to retrofit existing structures. Brands like Chubb Fire & Security can rise to the challenge in two ways – through product integration and innovation. These are key to adapting to the rapid expansion of urban areas and buildings that seem to get larger and more daring each day. 

Integrated fire systems combine advancements in monitoring and detection with fire extinguishing systems, resulting in quick response times, which helps to ensure that critical data and assets are not lost. This allows clients a cost-effective solution for the protection of a building, no matter the size or purpose – a shopping centre in the heart of Hong Kong’s Kowloon district or a steel production plant in the coastal Netherlands. 

New innovative and integrated advancements in security solutions also include facial recognition software and artificial intelligence (AI) tools that, with the aid of video analytics, provide real-time data for security managers. For example, AI is being used to adapt analytic software to account for the way buildings are being used and to adapt facial recognition as a person ages. Video analytics also has a wide range of applications, such as matching facial images in different areas of a building. At one of London’s tallest office blocks under construction, Chubb Fire & Security is delivering a facial-recognition access-control solution with benefits that are threefold – speed of use, in terms of moving people swiftly through turnstiles; ease of use, to remove reliance on mobile phone apps or ID cards; and increased security because, unlike with other forms of identity, facial recognition cannot be used by anyone else. anyone. 

Similarly, Chubb is employing its innovative video analytics solution at iSQUARE, an iconic shopping mall located in the heart of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist district, although this time, the integration involves the elevator system as well. The mall houses some of the world’s best-known retail brands and restaurants and has extremely high foot traffic every day. Chubb deployed its closed circuit television (CCTV) and video analytics systems to automatically count passengers in the lobby and restaurant floors during peak periods of the day.  The smart elevator dispatching system uses this data to send the appropriate number of lifts to a given floor to ensure that customers do not face long waits to go to their next iSQUARE destination. This real-time analysis means that wait times are reduced by 24 percent, allowing people to move more efficiently around the building. This is a retrofit solution that uses a seamless interface with technology from Otis, who installed the elevator systems to work in tandem with the CCTV systems and video analytics capabilities.

The changing face of urban landscape is also creating the need for creative and innovative solutions unlike what’s been seen in more traditional structures. One such example of a daring architectural design that proved challenging for fire and security protection is the CentrO shopping centre in Oberhausen, Germany. Due to its size and the amount of open spaces, CentrO requires separate fire safety requirements across the site. Chubb Fire & Security developed a unique, bespoke solution combining traditional water sprinklers with a high-pressure water mist system that is mounted in the walls to protect the outside areas of the shopping centre. 

The obstacles facing the fire and security industry are many but innovative and integrated technology provides opportunities to overcome them, with data and analytics leading to a multitude of solutions and, hopefully, fewer problems for the millions now inhabiting the world’s cities.