A prosperous future for cities relies on public safety
08 August 2013 | Sergio Ortega Cruz, Worldwide Industry Solution Manager, Public Safety and National Security
For the first time ever, the majority of the world’s
population lives in a city, and this proportion continues to expand. The World
Health Organization assesses the number of urban residents as growing
by nearly 60 million every year, and it’s expected to continue increasing
by roughly 1.5 percent annually over the next several decades at least.
This means that by the middle of the 21st century, the urban
population will have nearly doubled, increasing from approximately 3.4 billion in
2009 to 6.4 billion in 2050, primarily in developing countries. (Check out this
map that shows which areas are predicted to experience the most change.)
That’s an astounding number of people that are and will continue to be
dependent on those cities’ abilities to be healthy, peaceful, and prosperous.
You may have seen the news about the recent launch of Microsoft CityNext – a global
initiative that aims to empower cities, businesses and citizens to better
compete in the global marketplace, drive citizen engagement, and foster
economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Public safety and justice
will be a cornerstone of this program, because safe cities create the
foundation for vibrant communities, commerce, growth opportunities, and quality
of life. Defending that safety is one of our most important roles – in fact, nothing
can be accomplished without it.
As we look to the future, our efforts will focus on two
groups that are critical to the safety of citizens: law enforcement officers
and first responders. The men and women in these roles have an enormous
responsibility to citizens, yet they are too often strapped for the time and
resources they need in order to serve as effectively as possible, in areas such
In many cases, law enforcement officers are burdened by the volume of data that
they need to capture, process, and access, both in the field and at the office.
Technology solutions can help alleviate this pressure by providing officers
with tools to access and file paperwork in the field as opposed to at the
office. Such a system would greatly increase the speed of processing and create
tremendous efficiencies across police departments.
Court and judicial officers are facing enormous efficiency
challenges as well. Robust e-Justice solutions can help them effectively collect,
analyze, and circulate information across multiple jurisdictions, agencies, and
organizations to integrate data and communication throughout the complex
judicial process, resulting in improved officer safety, more efficient
processes, reduced backlog, and lower costs.
First responders in particularly are more mobile than ever before, and they
need devices that enable collaboration anytime, anywhere. Another key part of
our mission will be to serve them with the devices and apps they need to be
productive in any scenario – be it at a traffic stop, at their desks, on the
road, or during a disaster. Whether their device is personal or
department-issue, it should be flexible, secure, and resilient enough to serve
a wide variety of needs.
Effective law enforcement depends heavily on the ability to capture and process
information in real time and to extract useful intelligence. From the unprecedented
Awareness System to the programs that monitor critical infrastructure
systems like energy, water, and transportation, the physical technology used in
surveillance sensors and cameras is feeding crucial information back to the security
teams charged with defending public safety – much faster and more thoroughly
than ever before.
Finding ways to incorporate citizens into neighborhood management can be an
extremely effective way to support local law enforcement activity. By taking
advantage of innovative social media, mobile, and online communications tools,
police and city officials can help reduce crime and maintain order by creating
channels for ongoing communication within the community. These advancements are
particularly important for public safety, where mobile apps, call centers, and
web-based advisory sites can help citizens report crimes, and can also help
public safety officials alert people to emergency areas or other immediate
By 2050, the U.N. estimates
that seven out of every 10 people will live in a city – and serving those
global citizens will be no small task. As law enforcement officials, first
responders and other public servants continue to safeguard a growing urban population,
innovative technology solutions will become an important part of managing this
critical responsibility, empowering citizens, and securing a thriving future.
We look forward to navigating the challenges together and to embracing the many
Worldwide Industry Solution Manager, Public Safety and National Security