Technological advances have allowed society to take great strides in recent years, offering greater connectivity and increased opportunities to nations across the world.
However, technology also brings with it new and more powerful threats to the well-being of the public.
This is why Huawei is focused on providing its extensive, powerful technologies to various national and local safety-focused agencies across the world.
Huawei’s Safe Cities
Huawei’s Safe City solutions are already used in over 700 cities from over 100 countries, heavily reducing crime levels while increasing workforce efficiency, including crime solving.
Huawei’s Global Chief Public Safety Scientist Mr. Hong-Eng Koh recently visited South Africa to explain how Huawei’s various Safe City solutions could help South Africa to fight crime and natural disasters alike.
Allaying privacy concerns
Huawei is aware of the privacy concerns surrounding video surveillance and other technologies, which is according to Koh one of the reasons why Huawei doesn’t involve itself in the running of Safe Cities nor managing the data; it only provides technology, equipment and training.
“While we take privacy very seriously, it is also important for us to provide state-of-the-art solutions to keep people safe,” said Koh.
“As a responsible city government, or public safety agency, you need to do risk assessment, you need to know public sentiment, and you need to maintain a balance between providing security and upholding privacy.”
Solving the silo problem
According to Koh, the biggest issue with most public safety agencies is that their systems are split into silos. For example, when a policeman needs to access video footage of a potential suspect, he will manually have to access footage from each party that has collected it.
Huawei’s Safe City solution automatically uploads all surveillance footage to the cloud, which is run by its Intelligent Video Cloud platform, a secure private cloud offering an open platform to run multiple video analytics.
This allows ubiquitous access to video surveillance, big data analytics, and cloud computing to optimise the video surveillance process.
Koh also highlighted that most police use audio communication devices that only offer 2G connectivity. According to Koh, this technology is actually more expensive to run, since it is old technology for which global usage is declining.
Huawei offers eLTE, a secured and superior communications network and devices that offer a host of other powerful features such as video and image capabilities to optimise public safety processes.
Koh used an example of a parking fine to show the benefit of this additional functionality – all a traffic officer would need to do is take a picture of the licence plate and the fine could be processed.
The photo would display the licence plate, while the meta data of the image stores the date, time, and GPS location where the image was taken.
Huawei’s eLTE networks are a particular strength of Huawei’s, as they not only offer fast speeds, but also form part of its crucial Rapid eLTE devices.
Rapid eLTE allows safety agencies to set up networks in a focus area if it is poorly covered, allowing for up to a few kilometres of instant connectivity.
The devices that provide Rapid eLTE are small enough to transport, meaning they’re quick and easy to set-up in time-sensitive situations.
Koh highlighted how Huawei’s Rapid LTE devices assisted the rescue team’s communications with those outside the cave in the infamous Tham Luang cave incident in Thailand.
Powered by AI
Koh also highlighted the power of Huawei’s AI software in ensuring that Safe City projects provide optimal protection.
An example of AI usage is how if a camera picks up the face of flagged person, it will tell other cameras in the vicinity to focus on the face too.
Huawei is even planning some Safe Cities that don’t use human control centre operators at all.
Instead, these control centres use AI-powered interfaces to collect information from those who report it, and automatically dispatch police in the vicinity.
Why Safe Cities will work in South Africa
South Africa suffers from several issues when it comes to widespread technological coverage.
Two of the biggest hurdles are technology theft, and internet and power coverage.
Koh said that solving these problems is easily doable – it’s just up to your creativity and budget.
“You need to look at different situations,” said Koh, referring to technology theft. “For example, Huawei has 4K cameras that are good enough quality that they can be deployed at the top of a high-rise building.”
He added that placing high-quality cameras out of thieves’ reach would likely be the best solution in Johannesburg.
Huawei also has ways to circumnavigate issues relating to a lack of internet and power coverage, having already worked with various nations who suffer from this problem, including Ghana.
“In Ghana, there are areas where there is no power supply, not to mention data connectivity,” said Koh. “We actually designed a system that uses solar power and our eLTE antenna to connect to the wireless eLTE network to solve the power and data problem in Ghana.”
Koh concluded that Huawei is highly interested in implementing Safe Cities in South Africa and hope to help solve more public safety related issues in South Africa.
This article was published in partnership with Huawei.