Bringing intelligence to cities means increasing the quality of life of its residents or visitors, digitalizing an ecosystem, and making the whole environment interact to better understand it. At Axians, we believe that video analytic solutions can be one of the ways cities can improve the overall quality of life of its residents, businesses, and visitors.

In which area of the city are video surveillance systems expanding?

Advanced data analysis and video systems help in many areas such as security which has become a major issue in cities to prevent theft, assault, and damage to street furniture. The video system can facilitate the surveillance of pedestrian crossing by alerting motorists, help alert emergency services quickly and can rapidly identify dangerous situations in public transport.
An AI-based solution developed by Swarm Analytics implemented by Axians and Cegelec focuses on how to increase safety at urban pedestrian crossings. The stream-based classification system can analyze which ones need additional signals, traffic lights or other construction activities.

“With this information we are able to consult European cities to improve the way how people move and how to make metropolitan area more sustainable,” said Marcus Kottinger, AI Program Management – VINCI Energies Europe East.

Video surveillance solutions are not only installed for security matters. These solutions also aim to help mobility by monitoring pedestrian flows and thus increase the attractiveness of a city. Axians has been working with the Aix-en-Provence local authorities to help them analyze the ways people follow in the city. Stores can then adapt to the best and offer the ideal service to citizens and tourists.
The video system can also be used to optimize the organization of a city’s infrastructure, as in Venice where 34 gates were deployed 3 years ago by Axians to collect data on crowd density, speed and direction in the city. The goal was to be able to predict the location and number of people inside the city. These data are very important for public services to manage large events such as the Venice Carnival for example. The direction data is also used in conjunction with the cities video surveillance system to know if there are traffic jams in the city or risky situations to help the police intervene efficiently and quickly if necessary.

Cegelec, a VINCI Energies company installed a solution called RAVE at the Viennese subway station. The idea was to estimate the considerable number of passengers approaching the subway platform simultaneously at the end of soccer games. Since the subway platform can only offer a certain capacity, a people counting system was installed based on computer vision and combined with an access control system to avoid passenger congestion and possible accidents in the subway station.

Video surveillance can also help traffic fluidity by monitoring the road flows’, thus reducing congestion and making more efficient use of the available car parking spaces. Axians played a role in the installation of a connected parking lot in Aix-en-Provence. They first connected 127 parking spaces and will soon install 200 additional spaces for people with reduced mobility. Video surveillance system can help to manage queues in the transport system according to the number of people, improve the layout of cycle paths, help maintain compliance with the rules via video-verbalization.

Sustainability: a major challenge for the cities

Monitoring environmental factors is essential to ensure the sustainability of smart cities and guarantee the health and well-being of citizens. Via video surveillance systems it is possible to modulate road traffic according to pollution. A VINCI Energies company worked with Rouen town local authorities whose result was the modification of waiting times at red lights in case of pollution peaks. The analysis of temperature and pedestrians’ behaviors allowed the city of Aix-en-Provence to analyze that cooler spots were necessary during temperature peaks. In this same location, Axians is using the city’s surveillance cameras to analyze trash deposit waste around the garbage cans instead of installing new sensors. On a large scale, it can help cities use less IT equipment and therefore be more sustainable.
We are currently processing many requests where cameras surveillance systems should help cities to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions. We are convinced that these types of solutions will continue to respond and support cities in their sustainable transition.

What about personal data?

The installation and use of data generated by surveillance cameras must comply with the main principles of regulations protecting personal data such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

As explained above, different types of cameras are installed in cities for security, functionality, mobility, and attractiveness. All these uses are subject to strict regulations, generally those of the country in which the cameras are used, such as the CNIL (National Data Protection Commission) in France. Exchanges of personal data have increased in the context of European and international police cooperation, especially since the beginning of the terrorist attacks. Data protection challenges need to be addressed at the international level, such as the GDPR in the European Union.

Privacy must be thought of from the camera to the application, including the methodology of data capture, storage, use, etc. Thinking upstream from the creation of the data to its destruction to respect the measures in force is called “Privacy by design”. Several types of solutions exist for this, such as considering immediate deletion of the collected source images or automatic data anonymization.

Two new types of use have appeared in recent years namely the augmented reality camera and the biometric camera.
Augmented Reality (AR) has existed for several decades, but its growth and progress in recent years has increased for smart cities. The availability of consistent, high-speed network connectivity has allowed AR technology to mature enough to help cities become smart, digital and connected.
The application of AR into smart cities offers a unique immersion into the Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

The use of smart technologies raises new issues and challenges regarding data privacy.
In response to the increasing use of smart city technologies, cybersecurity programs and data utilization methods are being developed in the same mindset.
To address these issues, key potential solutions include developing procedures and action plans to respond to cyberattacks, implementing manual overrides and fail-safe devices on all smart city systems. When implementing new smart city systems, the concept is to create and use security controls for encryption, authorization, authentication and software updates.

At Axians, we are aware of the concerns that may arise from the installation and use of cameras in cities. We are always available to communicate with our customers about our methodology for a fully secure data management system. We make every effort to ensure that the protection of citizens’ data is respected, drawing on our years of experience, the in-depth knowledge of our experts and our international network.

What is the future for camera surveillance systems?

Cameras are progressively more present in our cities today. Initially, they were only installed for security purposes. Now associated with data analysis tools, surveillance cameras are used in most of the city’s use cases whether for the environment purpose, citizen comfort, accident prevention, etc. It is no longer necessary to multiply IoT sensors but simply to merge them via a single advanced device such as the camera.

Continuous improvement in data analysis allows more data to be processed in greater detail. Several elements such as the miniaturization of computer components and the obvious advantages of Edge Computing allow cameras surveillances system to thrive in cities. The reduction of power supply needs contributes to give more autonomy to sensors and the advent of powerful wireless networks such as 5G, promise a bright future for cameras for smart cities.