In a day and age where your thermostat, house alarm and refrigerator are all internet enabled, it should come as no surprise that street lights, traffic signals and other public safety technologies are quickly joining the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, too. One prime example is GE’s recent partnership with ShotSpotter to create smart street lighting technology, as part of their “Intelligent Environments for Cities” program.
ShotSpotter technology uses a combination of acoustic sensors and triangulation to quickly detect and locate gunfire and then, using cloud-based data processing, this system has the ability to provide police forces with real time, precise locations for where the activity is occurring. Another important aspect of ShotSpotter is that big data allows the technology to quickly analyze the specific auditory signatures of any sound and is able to determine with a high degree of certainty whether a noise is, in fact gunfire, or is associated with something else, such as fireworks or a car backfiring.
By integrating ShotSpotter (and other smart technologies) into the existing street light infrastructure in cities around the country, police forces are able to more easily deploy these public safety upgrade across a citywide network. By having data points from across an entire city, public safety departments are then able to use more sophisticated statistical analyses to better understand trends in crime and potentially create a more proactive police presence that specifically targets verified problems in a more unbiased way.
ShotSpotter integration into streetlights is just one of many ways cities are beginning to take tangible steps to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of public safety initiatives through the use of technology. What do you think? Does big data and the Internet of Things hold the key to improving the quality of life for a city’s residents?