Earlier this year, Microsoft partnered with the government of São Paulo in Brazil to deploy a crime data aggregation and analysis platform called Detecta. Like a search engine, the system indexes large amounts of police information and creates automatic associations between the data, helping local authorities to improve the way they monitor and fight crime. The system is already making a difference but, to really justify their investment, authorities are looking to expand their use of it and find ways of collecting even more information to help local police do their jobs more effectively.
Detecta is based on the successful Domain Awareness System developed by Microsoft and New York City in 2012, which aggregates and analyses public safety data in real time, providing NYPD investigators and analysts with a comprehensive view of potential threats and criminal activity. As of last year, 6,000 security cameras were connected to DAS – one-third of which are police cameras, the rest are owned by private businesses.
Local authorities in São Paulo recognise that the more security cameras they have connected to their own system, the more information they will have at their disposal to tackle crime more effectively. In August, they had succeeded in connecting over 540 government-owned cameras to Detecta. In October they added another 120 privates cameras, but they still want to add significantly more.
To do this, authorities need to not only invest in more security cameras themselves; they also need to find a way of taking advantage of existing, privately-owned cameras that are already installed in local businesses, restaurants, shops and condominiums.
As Denis André Côté, who oversees the Brazilian operations of IP video surveillance specialist Genetec, explains, this is not as straightforward as it may seem. “Authorities must link more cameras to Detecta if they want to take advantage of its full potential, but they need to find a way of interfacing between this technically advanced system and the many many security cameras in São Paulo that all run on different systems, some of which are analogue,” he says.
A neighbourhood association (Sociadade Amigos Vila Madalena) in Vila Madalena, an area in the western part of São Paulo, is working on a solution to this problem. It has partnered with Genetec to build its own monitoring centre that connects to public and privately owned cameras in the area, and links up with Detecta.
The system is based on Genetec’s unified security platform called Security Center and is hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud. Once it is fully up and running, it will be capable of pulling together all of the live video feeds being streamed from hundreds of cameras in the neighbourhood, giving local authorities the information they need to respond quickly to emergency calls, map crime statistics, gather evidence, and more.
“This system has been built to serve as bridge between Detecta and the disparate security camera network in Madalena’s streets,” says Côté. “Not only will officers be able to view live video streams from the central monitoring centre, but they will also be able to access information on their mobile devices while they’re out in the field. Importantly, the system also connects to Detecta, providing São Paulo’s authorities with the valuable information they need to increase their crime prevention efforts and improve police investigations.”
Because the solution is hosted on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, it will also be affordable to run – both in the short and long term. “We will charge a fee per month to run the system and store the data it collects,” says Côté. “This makes the infrastructure very manageable from a cost perspective as the association simply pays for what it’s using, rather than having to make a large upfront investment. It also means that the association doesn’t have to pay out initially for more storage capacity than it needs, or worry about running out of storage in future.”
At the moment, Côté is working with his team at Genetec alongside the neighbourhood association to get a pilot up and running. “We currently just have a few cameras connected to the system, but we expect to add exponentially more in the coming weeks,” he says.
If successful, Côté hopes that the system will be deployed in other neighbourhoods across São Paulo and further afield too.
“Today, funds and resources are tighter than ever in the public sector,” he says. “Government leaders are beginning to realise the power of partnering with the private sector, and it is initiatives like this that demonstrate just how effective we can be if we work better together and take advantage of what’s already out there.”
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