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How One Smart City Uses Video Analytics to Improve Livability

What’s the most advanced city in the UK? London? Manchester? The answer might surprise you. Instead of one of Britain’s largest metropolises, a small city of just 500,000 residents in southwest England is now the leading smart city in the UK.

Thanks to the Bristol Is Open initiative—a joint venture between Bristol University and Bristol City Council—what started as the provision of 30 Gbps fiber broadband to residents has turned Bristol into an R&D digital testing center for smart cities.

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Bristol’s smart city initiatives include ongoing plans to incorporate IoT sensors and GPS devices, high-speed internet connections, and video analytics. Video analytics, especially, has helped Bristol improve livability by leveraging IoT devices and AI technology.

How Video Analytics Helped Turn Bristol into a Leading Smart City

Through a city-wide CCTV system of over 1,700 cameras, Bristol leverages smart video analytics software to transform the way the city lives and works.

Improved Public Safety

Traditionally, CCTV systems rely on manpower to identify issues and react to crime. This makes the process both slow and inefficient.

With an IoT-based video analytics system that uses statistical and AI algorithms, footage is analyzed in real time and the authorities are immediately alerted whenever anomalies occur. This allows law enforcement to react much faster to prevent and react to crime and to make Bristol a much safer city to live in.

Better Livability

Bristol’s cameras go beyond public safety. Video analytics also helps the city council plan and develop the city in order to better serve residents.

Smart cameras point out anomalies such as regular congestion on particular streets, allowing city authorities to plan how this traffic can be prevented or redirected in the future. The result is that the council can make infrastructure decisions based on accurate data, instead of perceived problems.

Optimized Performance and Privacy

One of the major objections to video monitoring is privacy. By watching citizens every hour of every day, are we invading their privacy?

Not only is privacy a concern, but video store is as well. Each camera in Bristol’s system produces about 1MB of traffic and storage per second—and these cameras run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In a city with 1700 cameras, this is a huge problem. Yet only 1% of that footage is relevant, says Khamis Abulgubein, Principal Product Manager, IoT Applications for Nokia.

Bristol uses video analytics software to alleviate these concerns. Bristol’s AI video analytics system that captures data, analyzes it in real time and alerts authorities to any anomalies automatically. Normal footage, such as video of citizens walking on a sidewalk, is discarded, saving storage space and causing far fewer privacy concerns.

Bristol’s Smart City Formula

Bristol’s smart city initiatives all lead back to a common objective: improving life for citizens. They combine video analytics software with high-speed internet and IoT devices to help citizens feel safe, while retaining their privacy.

Future initiatives, such as using personal devices and GPS to monitor air quality for environmental data, are on the way. As new technology becomes available, Bristol will continue to incorporate it into its IoT ecosystem to create a high quality, sustainable experience for residents, businesses, and visitors.



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