NTT Data, Inc. (NTT) worked closely with the City of Las Vegas and Dell Technologies to create a solution that leverages IoT edge analytics for public safety. Learn about their project and what they learned about being “smart” from this interview between Managing Editor Laura Benold and NTT Vice President Bill Baver.
LB: Please tell us a bit about your project: Safe City Las Vegas.
BB: Designed to improve safety, NTT is accelerating smart. High definition video cameras, sound and motion sensors, and an array of IoT devices are integrated and deployed to monitor a location or venue in the city’s Innovation District to create a multi-channel solution. The solution, in turn, provides situational awareness, warnings and alerts to city agencies and venue security teams of incidents as they develop. The system proactively provides early notification of potential and active public safety incidents to command and control authorities. If the city deems it appropriate, they then notify the appropriate first responders. By leveraging advanced analytics including machine learning technologies, the system “learns” normal patterns and detects patterns that appear abnormal.
LB: How did you come to get involved, and how have you worked with both Dell Technologies and Las Vegas to bring about intended results?
BB: NTT is a company that is committed to innovation. We don’t just claim innovation we actively seek innovation, which is why we partnered with Dell Technologies. We wanted to find synergies and opportunities for co-innovation. Together our companies have an innovation pedigree that few companies could match.
Our partnership with Las Vegas started when we were looking for a city that shared our collective vision for innovation. Initially we were focused on other cities, but we learned very quickly of Las Vegas and their commitment, focus, attitude and investment in innovation. Michael Sherwood is a driving force with a very future forward vision. We knew we had found a match.
Our results are exceeding our expectations. Initially, we just wanted to see if it would work. Could all of the technologies and companies connected to improve situational awareness and overall safety? We can answer emphatically, YES. We proved our hypothesis and have realized additional new use cases as we continue to implement the solution.
LB: Why is Las Vegas an important or appropriate place to facilitate more seamless public safety initiatives? With that, were there challenges in testing and establishing the technology?
BB: When most people think of Las Vegas technology and innovation are not their first thoughts, but all that is changing, especially with respect to smart technologies. We focused on public safety initiatives as our initial use cases. As the pilot progressed, we found new data stories we did not originally anticipate. Las Vegas is exploring data solutions that support situational awareness within the innovation district, but can also be useful to a broader city – that is the value we are seeing with Las Vegas.
The challenges in Las Vegas were no different than any city. Almost everywhere government struggles with the ability to deploy new technologies in a timely fashion. While this is a typical challenge, Las Vegas proved to be more advanced and forward-thinking that other cities. Together, we worked to minimize the impact of these challenges.
LB: Much of the solution centers around first responders. Does it simply achieve quicker and more accurate notifications, or is there something on the receiving end for first responders to do differently?
BB: While the solution focuses on first responders, it is really around situational awareness to city personnel. The golden ticket really centers on data, how can the city use the data from a multitude of data sources to make more informed decisions? We focused initially on public safety. City officials quickly saw the art of the possible. What areas of services could benefit from quick, real-time analysis of decisions? Safety.
We have not focused on how the first responders react, but we are making the data available to the city so they can use their knowledge and expertise to make decisions, with a broader set of data availability. The city owns all of the data. They make decisions on how it is used to provide better informed citizen services.
LB: Usually, residents want to be safer; but they also value privacy. How has the public received the initiative?
BB: The key to our solution is that the city owns all of the data. The city dictates the use cases and the related policies of the use cases. The use cases we have highlighted do not collect Personal Identifiable Information. The city can evaluate use case data to improve the citizen’s experience without encroaching on citizen privacy.
The solution is being evaluated, reviewed and used by city officials to determine how to improve services to the citizens of Las Vegas. We are supporting the city in its efforts to work with technology and the public to the betterment of the services it delivers.
LB: You are following a number of Key Performance Indicators. Which is the one you’ve found to be most surprising, so far, and which is the most validating?
BB: The biggest KPI involves the mobility data story. We wanted to evaluate the situations in a 24×7 process. We identified some vehicle mobility issues we did not see prior to our solution. The data stories and the decision process using that information has really opened our eyes to see how the data is of the most valuable to the city personnel. We found the decision process varies from department to department.
The most validating indicator has been data movement. The big issue with using sensors is the volume of data being gathered and moved. For predictive analytics, you need to move the right data, to the right machine learning engine. By establishing micro data centers on the edge, then normalizing the data on the edge, and only moving the required data structures to the central data center expedites predictive and more in depth analysis. This has validated the distributed architecture approach, allowing us to move forward on data stories rather than worrying about moving data.
LB: What does it mean to NTT to win a Smart 50 Award?
BB: We are extremely honored to receive this reward and humbled by the recognition. This award demonstrates that we are on the right track to support cities to accelerate smart in their environments. By focusing on citizen improvement of our data stories, we support cities by improving how they evaluate the available information to create data stories that improve life. I believe we have created something that is truly on the forefront of using new technologies to help create better world.