How Video Data Plays a Pivotal Role in Smart Cities

31. January 2023

Building greener, safer, and all-round smarter cities is a top priority in the urbanizing world. These smart cities will be powered by technology and innovation, which means we can expect to see AI, smart analytics, and machine learning play an equally pivotal role as concrete, glass, and asphalt. Our new report explains why the smart city of the future will be built on video data, the issues that threaten to undermine those foundations, and how municipal authorities can overcome the challenge. Here’s a taste of what you can expect to discover.

The challenges of an urbanizing world

Around 56% of the global population, around 4.4 billion inhabitants, currently live in urban environments. And that proportion is expected to rise to nearly seven in 10 by 2050. Yet this relentless urbanization brings countless challenges. Affordable housing. Viable infrastructure. Efficient and sustainable transport and mobility systems. Jobs and services. Unsustainable sprawl. Increased energy consumption. Pressure on resources. Poor air quality. The list is endless…

The role of video technology in everyday life

Video technology plays a fundamental part in the everyday life of a smart city – and its use extends far beyond security and surveillance. Technological advances such as 5G and the internet of things have greatly expanded the opportunities for deploying video. Our report will explain how the data collected from video cameras can be put to almost unlimited use. Controlling air quality, monitoring traffic flow, managing energy consumption, supervising crowds and demonstrations, and responding more quickly to emergencies are just a few of the possible scenarios.

Video data in action

Using video data in smart cities provides real-time insights that transform these possibilities into reality. For example, video cameras and sensors at busy traffic interchanges, and along roads and bridges, can significantly ease traffic flow. By collecting and communicating traffic information in real-time, authorities can identify and respond to issues as and when they arise.

Video data drives public transport

Video recordings and live streams from buses, trains, trams, and stations can generate valuable insights that allow providers to improve services and boost revenues. For example, Deutsche Bahn uses videos to monitor the state of their 10,000 camera units and successfully protects their passengers’ identities.

Video data adds a new dimension to training

Transportation companies can also incorporate video into education and development programs, significantly improving both their effectiveness and their efficiency. For example, Berlin public transport provider BVG has implemented video into its e-learning program, allowing staff to learn from real-world track footage. 

Video data deters crime

Did you know that video surveillance enhanced with intelligent video analysis can detect sounds such as screams, breaking glass, and gunshots? Video systems are increasingly capable of optimizing the way smart cities manage law enforcement and protect their citizens from crime. In fact, studies show that levels of criminal activity fall in spaces protected by video cameras.

Video data aids environmental monitoring

In the face of urban sprawl, monitoring and analyzing the quality of air, water, and even soil is essential for safeguarding the health of citizens. Video management systems can provide real-time data and alerts to support a city’s environmental monitoring program. Soon it will be possible to track air particulate pollutants, observe weather conditions, measure temperatures, and even analyze water and soil quality.

But there’s just one small issue…

Video technology and smart analytics are helping to shape the future of ever smarter cities. Yet as our report points out, these technologies generate enormous amounts of high-quality video data in smart cities development. They capture numerous data subjects such as pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles – all of which can potentially be identified. And here’s the problem. Because processing personal data without consent violates the GDPR and similar privacy regulations around the world, this data needs to be anonymized.

Anonymization is only the start of smart

As you’ll find out, there are already plenty of solutions out there capable of anonymizing data through metadata aggregation, privacy masking, data purging etc. Yes, these conventional anonymization techniques all help to make sure data complies with privacy regulations. The trouble is, they can’t preserve the quality of the original data – and that quality is crucial to AI innovation and machine learning.

DNAT – the next generation of anonymization technology

Download our white paper to learn why Deep Natural Anonymization (DNAT) is different. Based on generative AI, this unique technology prevents the original subjects from being recognized by creating synthetic overlays. At the same time, DNAT maintains the data quality required for machine learning. This allows municipal authorities to safely use videos and images to power AI and analytics free from the threat of breaching privacy regulations.

In other words, DNAT preserves the quality of data and keeps it 100% compliant. And in doing so, it allows authorities to leverage video data to optimize the running of smart cities – free from the risk of compromising data privacy.

Interested in finding out how anonymization can help your business accelerate time to market and support the development of smart cities? Let’s have a chat.