In “Benefits and best practices of safe city innovation,’ West and Bernstein from the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings Institute, examine the ways that digital technology, mobile networks, and integrated solutions help officials in 17 cities manage public safety and law enforcement. The locales include cities in the United States, U.K., Thailand, Nigeria, Colombia, and more.
According to Darrell West and Dan Bernstein:
Digital technology represents a novel way to improve public safety, promote stronger ties between law enforcement and the community, integrate solutions such as video, data, and analytics into effective solutions, and give security officials stronger tools for outreach and coordination. Many police departments around the world are incorporating social media, mobile technology, and digital tools in their operations. They are setting up internet platforms, leveraging the wisdom of the crowd, and expanding their community policing initiatives.
The authors demonstrate that there is considerable variation from city-to-city in implementation progress and adoption of best practices. Singapore, Copenhagen, and London top the list of public safety innovators, while Abuja, Nigeria, Cairo, Kuwait City, and Astana, Kazakhstan, lag behind the top performers. The former are places that have a clear vision, significant financial resources, and strong infrastructure; generate positive safety outcomes; utilize data analytics; and engage the community to improve ties with the general public, while the latter have not implemented many best practices and have resource limitations that so far have precluded significant progress.
The implementation of public safety solutions represents a major challenge in many different places. Cities face barriers such as poor funding, infrastructure difficulties, public resistance, a lack of technical expertise, and privacy and security concerns’”but it is crucial for leaders to overcome these obstacles. However, there are many opportunities for cities to build their economies and promote social inclusion through public safety innovation.
Cities can encourage greater innovation by increasing budget investments in digital infrastructure, building public support, using crowd-sourcing platforms to encourage citizen participation, breaking down organizational stovepipes through technology, overcoming organizational resistance, making data openly available, deploying data analytics, integrating solutions, figuring out how to balance privacy and security concerns, and identifying opportunities for improvement.