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Nice: security at the cutting edge of technology

The innovative SafeCity project, launched in 2018 to make France's smart cities safer, is a three-year, collaborative research and development initiative led by Thales. The city of Nice is becoming the pilot of safety in France by initiating full-scale tests to demonstrate what is supposed to happen in laboratories. The first smart-city in France, the city of Nice will very soon be considered as one of the first "SAFE-CITY" in Europe, still as pleasant to live for its inhabitants, better protected, more resilient and more attractive. Thales is the lead partner in this 3-year collaborative research and development project.

Faced with increasing risks, the security industry (for which the French government has just appointed a new industry strategic commission) has identified the need to develop innovative products and services to keep smart cities safe. One of the key aspects of this approach is making it easier for all security stakeholders to share information by enhancing their operational co-operation through a collaborative platform. To better assess each situation and anticipate incidents and crises, as much existing data as possible needs to be collected and correlated to look for weak signals, all while ensuring data security.
The SafeCity project offers a complete security system with a collaborative data management capability and features including videoprotection for road safety, school security, connected patrols, command posts and communication systems. Partners will provide significant innovations for each of these subsystems, and through data sharing and analysis, the system as a whole will be much more valuable than the sum of its parts.
The system will be deployed the City of Nice.
Project partners include Thales (project leader), ARCLAN Systems, Business Card Associates, DEVERYWARE, EGIDIUM, GEMALTO, GEOL SEMANTICS, IGO, INRIA, LUCEOR, ONHYS, IDEMIA, SIS, SYSNAV and YNCREA.

The innovative SafeCity project will help enhance France's security industry expertise by developing solutions that meet stakeholders' operational needs. This joint effort will guarantee the development of effective, innovative solutions to make smart cities safer.

Nice is a municipality in Southeast France, the seat of the prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes department and the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region after Marseille.
Nice had a population of 342,637 in 2016, making it the fifth most populous municipality in France (after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse). It is located in the heart of France's seventh largest urban area, which had 1,004,914 residents in 2012.

The Urban Supervisory Control Centre (CSU) in the City of Nice was created on 23 March 2010 by Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice, Vice-President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region and President of the Nice Côte d’Azur metropolitan area. The CSU is located within the municipal police department and is considered the largest videoprotection complex in France in terms of the number of cameras it has deployed and the number of officers assigned to its videoprotection unit. On 1 January 2019, it had 2,510 cameras in service, or one camera for every 138 residents and 34 cameras per km2. The CSU employs over 100 officers, operates 24 hours a day and stores all of its video footage for 10 days.

Video footage is managed in real time in three supervision rooms with a total of 90 screens. Each of these rooms specialises in one of the system's three objectives. The first room handles events on the city's streets. The purpose of providing videoprotection in public areas is to dissuade and prevent attacks on persons or property and detect infractions as they occur. This technology also helps solve criminal cases, as footage from every camera can be sent to the national police, border police and the national gendarmerie.
This room is also responsible for helping to prevent natural or technological risks, rescue victims and fight fires. Videoprotection is a valuable tool for managing weather-related events. Cameras can provide a context-sensitive view of the situation from a distance without putting officers at risk, allowing them to make decisions such as closing embankment roads in the event of flooding. Footage sent to fire and rescue services can also be used to identify the source and extent of an incident in order to deploy the most appropriate resources.
A second dedicated room focuses on protecting schools and urban transport systems (tram and bus), with cameras installed outside the entrance of every school in the municipality. The third room is dedicated to traffic management and video-based issuance of traffic tickets. The CSU has prediction tools that anticipate traffic conditions and are connected to variable-message signs in the city, and it can ease the flow of traffic by spotting illegal behaviour such as double parking. It does all of this in close co-operation with geolocated teams on the ground. Non-real-time video footage analysis, playback and sequence exporting are done in a viewing room, and telephone calls are managed by the municipal police operator, which handles over 70,000 calls a year.

The City of Nice uses technology to keep the city safe, and its security system uses a combination of different technologies. In addition to the dome cameras installed on its streets, the city also has 15 mobile cameras it uses to meet specific surveillance needs on a temporary basis. It also has 300 multi-lens HD cameras that provide a 360° view, a particularly useful feature in public squares or at intersections. Having this peripheral view ensures that no information is lost during playback, unlike in the case of dome cameras, which can potentially provide a 360° view but only look in one direction at any given time. In addition to videoprotection, Nice also uses other security technology. Municipal police patrols are always geolocated, no matter what their means of transport, with their positions relayed in real time to help reduce response times. Public buildings are equipped with alarms connected to the CSU. In addition, thanks to a neighbourhood watch text alert system deployed in coordination with the national police, the CSU can quickly text important information to residents and businesses. Finally, it has also installed a system to manage retractable anti-intrusion bollards on the Promenade des Anglais and Quai des États-Unis. The videoprotection solution thus combines a whole array of different technologies used in close co-operation with actors on the ground.

Nice is undoubtedly the first city to have deployed a real-time surveillance system with cameras onboard its rolling stock. Footage from the 520 cameras installed in tramcars on the city's three tram lines is already being sent to the CSU in real time via a Wi-Fi link, providing a valuable real-time tool for managing incidents, accidents, violations of city ordinances and instances of petty crime. Geolocating field officers also reduces response times. This system complements the already-extensive public transport videoprotection system, which has 134 cameras installed on platforms and 214 others in underground stations on line 2, for a total of nearly 900 cameras protecting users of the public transport system. And the municipality does not intend to stop there: in January 2019, it began deploying the same system on bus lines, prioritising those that operate at night.