Video Management Software: extending services beyond security for local councils

Ash Ramanayake, Country Manager South Pacific, Milestone Systems

In an era marked by technological advancements, local councils are harnessing the power of video technology – or specifically the platform that sits behind it, Video Management Software (VMS) – to revolutionise their services and create meaningful connections with their constituents. While video was initially adopted for security and surveillance purposes, its potential to serve as a multifunctional tool has expanded significantly in recent times as technologies have progressed, enabling local councils to extend their offerings far beyond security measures. This innovative approach allows them to enhance communication, streamline operations, save on overhead costs and generally foster a stronger sense of community engagement.

Traditionally, video has been synonymous with security, serving as a robust tool when combined with a network of cameras for monitoring public spaces, ensuring safety, and deterring potential criminal activities. However, the capabilities of modern VMS solutions have evolved considerably, transcending the confines of surveillance. Local councils are now capitalising on these capabilities to address a broader array of issues that impact their constituents’ quality of life.

One way video technology is being leveraged for more than just security is through traffic management and public safety initiatives. By integrating VMS with intelligent traffic management systems, local councils can monitor traffic patterns, identify congestion points, and even adjust traffic signals in real-time to optimise traffic flow. This not only reduces congestion and travel times but can also assist in minimising air pollution at junctions and enhancing overall road safety. Video feeds are also able to be used to monitor pedestrian crossings, ensuring the safety of vulnerable road users.

Video technology can also be employed for environmental monitoring purposes. By installing cameras at key locations local councils are able to monitor things like air quality, water bodies, and green spaces. A high-definition camera linked to the right technology can detect and analyse particulate matter, assessing how much pollution might be in the air at a tunnel outlet for example. This data can help in identifying pollution sources, monitoring the health of ecosystems, and responding promptly to environmental threats. By utilising video technology in this manner, local councils demonstrate their commitment to sustainability as well as the well-being of their constituents.

Efficient urban planning and infrastructure maintenance are vital for creating liveable cities and video can play a vital role in this area as well. Cameras strategically positioned across the urban landscape can provide real-time insights into usage patterns, pedestrian traffic, and public transport effectiveness. This data can guide urban planners in making informed decisions about the placement of new infrastructure, the expansion of public transportation routes, and the design of pedestrian-friendly spaces. This has the added benefit of allowing councils to provide accurate figures to developers and investors, who might be assessing a retail site or other commercial space. Hobart City Council has adopted this methodology, and now help potential investors make informed decisions as part of their strategy for turning their 240-camera network into an operational setup and thus maximising the use and value of the technology.

Video has the ability to act as a conduit for increased community engagement as well. Local councils can utilise the technology to broadcast town hall meetings, community events and public service announcements, fostering a sense of connection and transparency between residents and their local government. This not only facilitates the dissemination of important information in real-time but also encourages active citizen participation and feedback within the community.

For councils residing in historically or culturally rich areas, video can be a tool for promoting tourism and preserving cultural heritage. Live camera feeds showcasing iconic landmarks, historical sites, and cultural events can attract visitors and promote local businesses. Live streaming the baby giraffe enclosure at Perth Zoo is one such example. Moreover, video can aid in the protection of heritage sites by enabling real-time monitoring to prevent vandalism and unauthorised access. As an example, world-famous Pompeii in Italy is protected by a sophisticated integration of video technologies, under the Smart@POMPEII initiative.

During emergencies and natural disasters, the importance of real-time information cannot be overstated. Video can play a critical role in emergency response and disaster management. By providing live video feeds of affected areas, local councils and emergency services can effectively assess the situation, allocate resources, and coordinate their response efforts. Integrated hardware can include two-way audio for broadcasting messages and providing information and feedback from remote parts of the city network. These resources can significantly improve the efficiency of rescue operations and enhance the safety of residents in these time critical situations.

In conclusion, video technology and the Video Management Software (VMS) that runs it has transcended its original purpose of security and surveillance to become a versatile tool for local councils to extend services to their constituents. Through its integration with various systems and its ability to provide real-time insights, video technology enhances traffic management, environmental monitoring, urban planning, community engagement, tourism promotion, and emergency response. By embracing these expanded functions, local councils are not only improving the quality of life for their residents but also demonstrating their commitment to innovation, sustainability, and community welfare. Furthermore, there is a very real opportunity to make the technology work harder for the council and save significant overheads.

As technology continues to evolve, the potential for video to reshape the relationship between local governments and their constituents remains very promising.