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Smarter Public Safety

This is part two of a series about Smarter Public Safety.  Read part one here.

By Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier

Just over 20 years ago, Washington, D.C., was known as the “Murder Capital” of the United States. I was a fairly new officer when we were given this title and believe me, it was not something I was proud of and I committed myself to ensuring I did what I could to change that. Fast forward to a year ago and I can’t tell you how proud I was to announce that our homicide rate has dropped to a 50-year low.

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This is part one of a series about Smarter Public Safety.  Read part two here

by Christopher Padilla, Vice President of Government Programs for IBM

If you live in or around Washington, D.C., you have seen first hand how better public safety can help to improve local economies. Once known as the “Murder Capital” of the U.S., the homicide rate has dropped to a 50-year low in our capital city. This kind of dramatic turnaround has helped the city become a focal point for economic growth.  I’d urge you to read Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier’s latest post to the Smarter Planet blog to learn more about what D.C., is doing to curb crime and foster economic growth.

Today, IBM’s Institute of Business Value released a paper on how a smarter approach to managing public safety can jumpstart economic development. This paper outlines how cities can curb crime and foster economic growth.

Every day, local governments are challenged with ensuring they create a safe environment to not only protect the safety of their citizens, but also promote economic growth.

Here are just a few examples of how crime can have an impact on the Gross Domestic Product of certain countries:

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By Chief Frank Milstead, Mesa Police Department

Combating crime in a city like Mesa, Ariz., is never easy, but my officers here have done an amazing job of reducing crime to historic lows that haven’t been seen in 50 years. We have been able to dramatically reduce crime by 25 percent since 1991.

We’ve had a number of recent successes in reducing crime, but one incident in particular sticks in my head. Mesa PD is host of the East Valley Gang and Criminal Information Fusion Center.  The center is a combined effort between seven local law enforcement agencies to share information and we have already seen the value of sharing information.  Earlier this year, a detective in the East Valley Gang and Criminal Information Fusion Center was monitoring the patrol radio and heard a partial license plate and a vehicle description referencing a hit and run collision broadcasted over the air.  We were able to identify that four possible vehicles fit this description in near real time. This information, along with other identifying characteristics of the owner of the car allowed the detective to identify the suspect, pass the information to officers on the scene.  The officers in the field were able to quickly locate the suspect.

Through its work with IBM, the Mesa Police Department joins an elite group that includes New York, Vancouver, Northern Ireland, Memphis and many others that are using advanced analytics to protect the safety of Mesa's residents and visitors. Police Officer Todd Reed of the Mesa Police Department reviews information on a suspect in his patrol car.

While we may not always enjoy such historic low crime numbers, I am proud of the crime fighting efforts our officers have exerted in getting us here.  We will continue these efforts with vigor and continue to evaluate our processes so our citizens and visitors may continue to enjoy a safe living and working environment.  Part of this evaluation process will include a look towards technology assisted policing.  We are now embracing a Smarter Policing approach that allows us to coordinate traditional police work with more strategic use of our resources like analytics technology to gain a more holistic view of our city. Smarter Policing brings together the art and science of law enforcement that augments the experience and knowledge of our officers with the information they need to make appropriate decisions.

Smarter Policing couldn’t come at a more important time for our city. Check that, it couldn’t come at a more important time for our region because crime knows no borders. Criminals don’t care where a city’s borders begin and end. They only care about not getting caught. This has created huge challenges for me and my colleagues in neighboring cities. We were confined to our borders and really didn’t have insight into what happened a couple miles away because it wasn’t in our jurisdiction. But that is changing along with the technology to keep pace with a faster-paced, more complex world.

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Using the IBM COPLINK technology we are now able to share information with neighboring cities like Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe and almost 50 other cities throughout the state of Arizona…essentially tearing down those invisible barriers.
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By Gregory Mullen
Charleston, South Carolina, Chief of Police

This week I had the honor of announcing a new project that my department is launching with the help of IBM to reduce crime in the City of Charleston. Our department, like those in New York, London, Vancouver and many other elite cities, is utilizing advanced technology to bring the next evolution in police work to our residents and visitors. Our goal is to make Charleston one of the safest cities in which to live and visit.

At its core, the project will allow us to take a new, more holistic view into historical crime statistics and patterns to allow our 400 plus officers to add technology, based on the latest advancements in analytics, to the tools they use to prevent crime before it happens.  This initiative bridges the art and science of law enforcement together in a manner that supports both tactical and strategic decision-making.  It’s all about augmenting the officer’s and commander’ s experience and knowledge with the information they need to make appropriate decisions that allow resources to be in the right place at the right time, so potential criminals think twice about committing a crime.

In my opinion, this project represents the cutting edge for the future of public safety and a significant move toward Smarter Policing in America.

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“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain

Today, IBM announced the 33 cities that will participate this year in its Smarter Cities Challenge grant program. This marks the second year in a three-year, $50 million, 100-city initiative. IBM sends five- or six-person teams of experts in a range of disciplines to help cities formulate strategies for improving the quality of life for their citizens.

By now, IBM has amassed a wealth of knowledge about how to help cities get started on transformational projects. Last year, the company engaged with 25 cities around the world, including St. Louis in the United States, Glasgow in the United Kingdom, Chiang Mai in Thailand and Johannesburg in South Africa. The previous year, they ran test programs in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Katowice, Poland; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Chengdu, China; and elsewhere. The themes of the projects ranged from education, transportation and to public safety to energy and sustainable economic development. Here’s a post on the Citizen IBM blog from Stephen Mandel, the mayor of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, about the engagement there.

After each engagement, IBM’s Corporate Citizenship team identifies lessons learned. The exercise is partly aimed at improving the program itself, but the team also gleans insights that could help any leader in any city launch an initiative aimed at fundamentally transforming an aspect of how the city works. Here are some of the most critical lessons for leaders:

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By Kui Kinyanjui
IBM East Africa

Six months ago, the city of Nairobi, Kenya, was rocked by an explosion that left over 100 people dead. The cause: residents had scooped oil from a broken pipeline, hoping to later sell the product on the black market. The oil accidentally ignited, setting off the explosion.

The city was sent into turmoil. A power outage hindered efforts to communicate and rescue victims. Traffic was backed up, making rescue efforts even more difficult as emergency medical personnel battled against time to get to the victims. The water supply in the surrounding neighborhoods dwindled to a trickle as fire fighters used up the last drops of the resource to put out the fire.

The explosion and its aftermath show the vulnerabilities of cities when confronted with major disasters. But the situation didn’t have to be so bad. If Nairobi had had a system for managing disasters some of the loss of life and property could have been prevented.

Rio de Janeiro shows the way. The Brazilian city teamed with IBM to create an intelligent operations center, which serves as a model for how cities can improve management of their critical services. The IOC coordinates the activities of more than 30 municipal and state departments plus private utility and transportation companies. “You can imagine the impact that using a city-wide intelligence system would have had on the day of the Nairobi explosion. In seconds, city officials would have known exactly how to respond to the disaster and lives would have been saved” says Tony Mwai, country general manager, IBM East Africa.

Mwai led a roundtable discussion of government services in Africa in Nairobi on October 6, 2011. A white paper summarizing the takeaways from the conference,  A Vision of A Smarter City: How Nairobi Can Lead the Way into a Prosperous and Sustainable Future, was published today.

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by Mark Cleverley, IBM director of public safety

As we enter the New Year, happily, some things stay the same. Namely, IBM’s focus on helping cities become smarter and safer. IBM just announced how it is working with the Rochester and Las Vegas police departments to better forecast crime “hot spots” and proactively allocate resources accordingly. Continue Reading »

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When Chris and Carolyn Clemans moved 2 1/2 years ago from a suburb of Syracuse, New York, to the city’s gritty Near West Side, they were among the first urban pioneers to join an effort to revitalize one of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Today, a dozen formerly rundown homes in the vicinity have been fixed up by new owners  and the neighborhood seems to be on its way to a surprising comeback.

The Clemans run a custom cabinetry business, Cabinet Fabrication Group, in a small downtown factory within walking distance of their home–so they’re betting their future on Syracuse. There are several factors in the Near West Side’s change of fortunes, but the key one, according to Chris, is that the new residents have changed the culture of the neighborhood. “Criminals are more comfortable operating in an area where people tolerate them. We don’t tolerate them,” he says.

The unwillingness of residents to accept criminal or even nuisance behavior is one of the key factors in determining whether an urban neighborhood can be stabilized or make a comeback, according to research conducted by a team of five IBMers who performed a deep analysis of Syracuse’s housing vacancy issues this fall. The team is part of IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge program–where the company sends teams to help cities worldwide assess and solve some of their most challenging problems. The Syracuse team recently presented a report laying out their findings and recommendations to municipal leaders. Their message: Armed with accurate information that correlates causes and effects, the city can craft successful strategies for revitalizing neighborhoods.

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Some argue that in this era of austerity, the US government can no longer afford to launch bold new programs aimed at making the country work better. Not so. But it’s true that big projects have to be approached differently. These days, government needs to work collaboratively with businesses, universities and community organizations to get big stuff done and boost the dynamism of the US economy.

Today, IBM is convening a conference, US Competitiveness: the Next 100 Years, to generate ideas for rekindling America’s competitiveness in the years ahead. For live blogging from the event, check in between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Please Tweet to #uscompetes.

The latest:

4:45 p.m. Close – Jonathan Fanton, Roosevelt House Fellow:

“A vision of a fair, just and humane society will advance our economic gains, if we can achieve it.”

We can’t count on government alone or industries to carry the burden of our reinvention.

We’re at an inflection point. All of us need to think differently We need to take responsibility for coming up with fresh thoughts for making our economy more vital.

“It’s individual initiative we have to find ways to unleash.”

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By Jennifer Bélissent
Forrester Research

Jennifer_Belissent_FORRLast week, I attended IBM’s Smarter City Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the fourth in a series of global events highlighting the opportunities for cities to improve their systems, and themselves as a “system of systems.”  This event felt different from the previous summit I had attended in Shanghai.  Obvious political and cultural differences aside (not to dismiss them as they were significant), the big difference I observed here was that the sessions were more real.  And, I don’t mean that as a slight on the Shanghai event.  In Shanghai, the focus was on creating the blueprints for smart cities.  In Rio, we had moved from blueprints to proof points. (Yes, you can quote that… it is mine.)  Mayors from cities across Latin America and some from even farther came to share their experiences.

For example, representatives from Singapore, London and Lima shared the challenges and successes of implementing new transportation initiatives.  Singapore deals with a growing population on an island, meaning there is no opportunity for sprawl and therefore “private cars are no longer an option.”  As a result, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has a goal that 70% of all circulation or “daily trips” will be by public transport.  They are almost there.  The strategy was twofold.  LTA makes it really expensive to drive a private car: cars are taxed at 120% and the ownership license distributed via auction was $60,000 in the latest round. Not to mention the congestion-based tolling system when you actually do use your car.  On the other hand, LTA has improved the experience of public transportation through an integrate transport system, predictive arrival times, and notification of arrivals among other things.

Continued on the Forrester blog, where this post was originally published.

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