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With increasing urbanization, our cities are growing larger, more complex and less safe. Governments and city planners must be prepared for a wide variety of threats to public safety, ranging from terrorism to natural disasters. As cities become more densely populated, authorities must also look for solutions to improve the quality of city living.
The ability to collect data and extract information from it provides tremendous potential to make cities safer and more livable. We now have the technological capacity to collect enormous amounts of intelligence about our environment and to mine it for patterns and correlations that will guide emergency responses and improvements to key city services.
Many of the challenges that city planners face, ranging from terrorism to natural disasters, require the cooperation of different branches of the government. To launch a coordinated response, different arms of the government, with different levels of access, must contribute their own sets of data input.
Here, technology can be used to facilitate cross-agency collaboration. In the aftermath of a disaster, governments must swing quickly into the recovery stage. Big data, including the latest machine to machine (M2M) communication technologies, promises to enable the rapid response required. Ultimately, the goal of the inter-agency collaboration framework is to achieve situational awareness, a multifaceted understanding with reasoning capabilities that not only displays information but presents actionable intelligence.
The thousands of sensors making up the city-wide network will most likely be under the purview of different government agencies or private companies. Data from one or a few agencies, however, does not provide a complete picture of the situation, and a major challenge for inter-agency collaboration is to seamlessly integrate large volumes of data from multiple sources.
Big data integration typically involves establishing a command center to which all sensors will relay their data. Such a strategy should be amenable to being rolled out on a large scale: in a major metropolitan area, for example, the framework could be hierarchical, with several smaller command centers aggregating data from their respective districts, and then reporting this to a central command center for further analysis. NEC's IAC solutions are able to streamline these processes, allowing agencies to work in tandem with one another.
NEC's MAG1C (Multi AGencies, 1 Concert) solutions look at three technological pillars in the quest for seamless Inter-Agency Collaboration: