Disuse of security cameras robs Nairobi of global smart status

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Traffic congestion in the city. Photo/Courtesy

When Huawei Technologies pioneered Nairobi’s fibre optic technology and city security cameras in conjunction with Safaricom, the intent was to transform Nairobi with digital solutions, through Smart City technology.

Nairobi may have walked the first step in the Smart City direction with the installation of Huawei security cameras system in 2013, but a showcase of the wholesome Smart City package that Huawei has deployed in Shenzhen shows what full benefits of this technology would mean for the city’s 4.5 million people.

The Nairobi cameras, erected in about 15 locations, have largely fallen into disuse, with only a police hub collecting data that is barely utilised.

A lot can be done with the full implementation of the smart technology. In Chinese town Shenzhen, where Huawei is headquartered, the brand is bigger than the landmark of the Pearl River estuary, on which the metropolis is perched, going by the firm’s global technology status.

About 10 cities in Italy, including Rome, have taken up the Smart City technology by Huawei that has also been adopted by dozens of leading European cities.

In Shenzhen, a city of 14 million people and a major tourist and business hub in Guangdong province, showcases what potential is available for developing cities like Nairobi in the Smart City digital technology package.

In Shenzhen, every square metre of the streets, residential and commercial, is covered by security cameras  connected to an Intelligent Operation Center (IOC) that works as the nerve centre of the Smart City.

The centre supports a visualised command centre that displays and analyses data for every situation in the metropolis. The entire city is basically co-ordinated from a central point.

The IOC for Shenzhen has the capacity to monitor, highlight, analyse and control the flow of traffic in the city minute-by-minute.

Instead of relying on fixed red light or traffic officers who count traffic flow time on the watch, the integrated system keeps altering the flow based on real time assessment.

In one real incident that was demonstrated to an international media delegation in Shenzhen, the IOC is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) capable of managing an accident rescue by blocking all lanes to the scene to leave the route clear for police and ambulance teams.

The same situation analysis alerted nearby hospitals with information to prepare them to receive the casualties.

Tackling crime

The technology, as was meant for Nairobi when the cameras were mounted, can help in tackling crime.

The cameras, if widely deployed and utilised and connected to an IOC hub can help police track and identify crime suspects.

The latest technology by Huawei has facial and eye recognition features that together with other data will identify a suspect in seconds.

In Shenzhen, motorists looking for parking space are saved the hustle of going round in circles by Apps that identify available parking spaces.

Waste collection in the city is monitored by the municipal authorities through central hubs that are fed with information on the environment.

The same hub can divert water to areas with high populations during the night and then alter the flow to the central business district (CBD) during the day using automated systems controlled by AI.

By night, city lighting is controlled from the IOC to concentrate on residential areas and limit power in the CBD. 

Transportation technologies include systems for airports, railway stations, taxis while others have been developed for agriculture, mining, tourism, health services and education.      

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