Monday, 00h30, Alfama. After an afterwork that lasted for far too many hours, he finally said goodbye to his co-workers. Despite the hustle and bustle that had been felt hours before, in full celebration of the Lisbon Festivities, he finds himself alone and lost in dark, silent streets. He picks up the phone, switches on the application, and tries to call a driver. Turn your eyes away from the screen to try to find the name of the street and … Damn! He just got robbed.

According to the Annual Internal Security Report, Portugal registered 333,223 crime participations in 2018. Of these, one quarter refers to crimes committed in Lisbon – the Portuguese city with the highest crime rate; the second, Oporto, registered more than 58,000 participations. The crime of robbery was the most participated crime (71%) and, within violent or serious crime, robbery accounted for 75.4% of the registrations.

How to fight crime? In a major European capital, such as London, the response was given by the unbridled increase in video surveillance. Why do not we consider this a good solution?

First, the London system is programmed to capture any and all information without any kind of limitation. This means that anyone, even a mere passer-by, can be picked up and registered by the authorities and their data is left to be used more dubiously. From the perspective of data protection, still in the light of the RGPD, we may face strong violations of the right to privacy.

Secondly, this system unnecessarily results in hours and hours of “tape”, which are practically impossible to analyze in a timely manner – for example, the three days of disturbances provoked by the London Riots(2011) resulted in 18,000 hours of video.

Third, in order for the analysis to be minimally efficient, a tremendous amount of human resources would have to be released from the public security forces, leaving the streets at the mercy of more incidents.

Sensing European cities will definitely contribute to a safer environment.

What is our solution? Smart Sensors and Gateways. First, intelligent sensing allows only certain events to be detected and communicated centrally. In other words, a mere passer-by, by itself, does not issue any alert, but an individual who adopts an anomalous behavior may already raise suspicion of violence and activate the necessary means of public security – everything depends on what is established as standard and deviation . This ensures citizens’ privacy, legitimately restricted in cases of public interest and increases efficiency, reducing the need for mobilization of security forces for analysis and the amount of information to analyze.

But smart sensing alone is not enough. The truth is that the 4G technology we use today, while allowing acceptable bandwidth for each sensor, also has some practical limits, such as the number of possible sensors per antenna. This is a challenge that 5G will respond to, but while that does not happen, it is necessary to find alternatives: mobile gateways – they can be on public transport – they too, intelligent, are able to communicate with sensors scattered throughout the city through technology NFC ( near field communication ), as in the case of Bluetooth or WI-Fi, using the 4G route only to transmit the relevant information to the exchange.

This is the proposal of the European project SCENE – Smart Cities on the Edge Network Enhancements : by putting more intelligence in the sensor and less in the central computing ( on the edge computing ) it is possible to change the current paradigm of criminality. In fact, it is possible to do much more than that and change the paradigm of urban security, mobility or the quality of life of communities. After all, this technology can also be applied to control second-row parking, which both contribute to urban chaos; the stability of the city’s infrastructure, such as monuments and bridges – monitoring them and issuing the necessary warnings to avoid, for example, their collapse; or even, the occurrence of riots in urban centers.

In addition, such technologies, called IoT ( Internet of Things ), are increasingly subject to threats and a company specializing in cyber attacks, such as VisionWare, is essential, to lead this project and ensure that the technology works effectively for community. We believe that sensoring European cities will definitely contribute to a safer environment and that, with our contribution, we can ensure good protection against cyber attacks targeting these new technologies, while ensuring the privacy of citizens.

By Bruno Castro, CEO of VisionWare.

Original article (in Portuguese):