Want safer cities? It may be as simple as sharing data. Here's how

Wed, 2014-03-12 06:00 -- Jesse Berst

Information is the key to spotting, solving and predicting crime. When that information is siloed in one department of one city, it is far less effective. Fortunately Microsoft, a Global Partner of the Smart Cities Council, has a tested method for sharing data between law enforcement agencies.

Although this story applies to public safety, it is a theme for all aspects of a smart city. Most communities already generate tons of data -- data that is far too often locked up in one silo. Cities can often make great progress simply by liberating the data they already have on hand.

One small point. The referenced article describes CityNext as a "kind of dashboard." In reality, CityNext is an ambitious initiative to develop next-generation cities. The dashboard described in this story is just one of many things delivered under that banner. --Jesse Berst

The article in Emergency Management explains how improving communications between law enforcement agencies is the impetus behind Trusted Information Exchange Services (TIES) software, developed by Swan Island Networks for organizations using Microsoft CityNext.

TIES for Microsoft CityNext, helps local and regional governments “tie” together a wide spectrum of existing and new information resources, from a variety of public and private systems to support critical city missions.

In Denver, for example, the city and county have used TIES for five years, but in the last 12 months have shared data received from the million Denver 911 calls receives annually with the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC), which distributes critical information to neighboring law enforcement agencies.

The heart of the TIES service is a Common Operating Picture (COP) which shows breaking events of all kinds, displayed via mapping services, on dashboards. This COP displays real-time data from many disparate sources, fused together in various maps and gadgets. The result is a 24/7 living view of the city—complete with the latest information about severe weather, gang activity, road closures, flu epidemics, electricity outages, cyber attacks, social media monitoring and much more.

“Even though cities are feeling the strain from economic challenges, we believe a new era of innovation will create opportunities for people to utilize technology to accomplish what they never thought possible," said Joel Cherkis, general manager of government for Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector. "We’re inspired by our diverse partner ecosystem and know that working together we can help cities realize their full potential.”

More on Microsoft CityNext…
Microsoft announces sweeping smart city initiative
Microsoft smart cities strategy: Platforms, partners and people first


Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to learn about the benefits you receive when you join the Council for free.