More than half the world’s population now lives in cities. According to UN figures, there are now 19 cities where the number of people exceeds ten million. By 2025, there will be eight more.
Every city is different. But in the quest to make cities safer, all face similar challenges. In an increasingly complex world, one of those challenges is to improve co-operation between administrative bodies, security forces and the agencies that contribute to the smooth functioning of urban communities. These include the organisations responsible for everything from water treatment, energy distribution and gas supplies to the operation of multi-modal transport systems.
"Historically, these different functions have been organised in silos" observes Yan Lévy, Urban Security Business Development, Thales. "Each uses its own information system and operates independently; communications with other entities is limited. This hampers the effectiveness of interventions and means that crises cannot be managed effectively because not all the key factors are taken into account. This hampers the effectiveness of interventions. And it means that when there is a crisis, it is not managed in accordance with the needs of the people and the professionals who serve them – fire fighters, police, justice, environment, transport and pollution."
The need to find new ways to monitor and visualise the city also presents a formidable challenge. Decision makers need to see exactly what’s happening, anywhere in the city. They need the ability to correlate information from multiple sources, and to filter out irrelevant data. And they must be able to track and control resources on the ground.
Building a bigger picture
Thales Hypervisor meets these needs. First, it harvests information from any application or system, new or legacy. These include command and control applications, CCTV, GPS tracking, image analysis and gunshot detection systems – and even images gathered by unmanned aircraft.
As well as gathering data from remote devices, Thales Hypervisor integrates information from IT systems, such as call handling, incident management and resource management systems.
Thales Hypervisor synthesises the data and provides multi-source data fusion processes. The result: an unprecedented ability to visualise and manage real-time events.
“Thales Hypervisor is a complete crisis and operation management tool” says Emmanuelle Costenoble, Marketing Manager for Urban Security, Thales. “It means that each separate application brings a synthetic analysis of the data that is relevant for decision makers. It provides them with the information they need, and then sends orders to all the relevant subsystems.”
The solution also offers unprecedented scope for sharing mission critical data between different groups. That means better decisions and the ability to co-ordinate an effective multi-agency response, whether that’s to a routine road accident or a full-scale terrorist attack.
“It is our duty to guarantee our citizens’ security – a more and more efficient security. The programme currently under development with Thales and Telmex is about exactly this: implementing tools which enhance our reactivity and thus our efficiency.”
Secretary of Public Safety for Mexico City
Thales’ ability to build solutions that harness the strengths of multiple forces is a key differentiator and it’s an ability that’s demonstrated by the company’s landmark urban security solution for Mexico City.
The system is the biggest of its sort anywhere in the world, with 8,080 cameras, gunshot detection microphones, street-level communication points for citizens and UAVs – unmanned aircraft that allow authorities to monitor threats anywhere as they emerge. All those subsystems are operated by regional and national command and control (C2) centres and supported by tactical mobile C2.
“Many of these subsystems are provided by Thales – that increases the level of expertise that we offer” says Mr. Lévy. But he emphasises that Thales’ solution is not just about technology.
“Understanding the customer’s business is equally important – it’s about being able to adapt a solution to different operating cultures and jurisdictions. A strong knowledge of customers’ concept of operations and standard operational procedures clearly make the difference in a complex solution; Thales is able to build a coherent orchestra powered by Thales Hypervisor and delivered to the market as a global urban safety and security packaged modular solution.”
With 22 million inhabitants and an area of 5,000 square kilometres, Mexico City is the world’s third largest urban agglomeration. Thales is working in partnership with the Secretariat of Public Security to transform the safety of citizens with the creation of world’s most comprehensive urban security system. It includes the integration of:
- 8,080 CCTV cameras, 80% with video analysis
- 380 gunshot sensors
- 255 automatic number-plate recognition cameras
- 180 traffic monitoring cameras on key routes
- 2 tactical mobile command and control centres
- 4 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft
- 5 regional C2 (command and control operation centres)
- 1 national C4I (command, control, communication, computer and intelligence centre)
- City-wide network of emergency call points and citizen terminals
Thales Hypervisor heralds a new era of seamless integration from the moment an incident arises. The handling of a routine emergency call provides an example. A car has crashed and injuries are reported. The emergency call operator uses a dedicated subsystem to qualify the incident and the call location. A correlation process contributes to localise events and automatically pinpoints them on a map.
A resource management application then allows the operator to create the relevant response, and selects appropriately equipped vehicles and teams to tackle the incident – these are dispatched automatically. Mobile resources are tracked via GPS and positions plotted in real time on a geographical information system, so decision makers can monitor the situation at a glance.
Thales Hypervisor adds extra value by allowing the integration of additional subsystems, such as traffic signalling. This makes it possible to open a clear corridor through crowded city streets, giving rescue teams a head start in the race to the accident scene.
What’s clear is that Thales Hypervisor opens up a new world of potentially limitless integration focused on customer requirements. “We understand the concept of operations of our customers and we understand their needs” concludes Mr. Lévy. “And with Thales Hypervisor, we can address those needs with the most relevant solutions.”
WHAT IS HYPERVISION?
Synthesis of critical information is the key to developing situation awareness. "We call this Hypervision" explains Yan Lévy, Urban Security Business Development, Thales. "It’s the presentation of information that comes with knowledge and intelligence inside. This is the result of analysis of multiple systems - of data fusion. And with this information, you can make decisions."
The ability to visualise and share information is the key to effective crisis management. "We are moving into an urban century and we need to use a model of interoperability between different security forces" stresses Mr. Lévy.
"In the urban security market, our customers are multiple safety and security forces. And in the operations centre, we see many representatives of each force and they’re still able to operate on their own systems. But, critically, Hypervision means they’re able to collaborate as well. This is vital for effective incident management."