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Counting the economic benefit of safe cities

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Kathy Gibson reports from Huawei Safe City Summit in Nairobi – Implementing a safe city system in Nairobi has had a noticeable impact on crime rates – and has even had a positive impact on the economy as a whole.
Chen Qui, global president of government and public utilities sector at Huawei Enterprise points out that initial figures show that the city’s crime rate has reduced by as much as 60% in the last year, particularly in car theft and robbery on the street.
“We find that our safe city solution can make our world, and our cities and urban citizens, feel safer and have a better life,” he says.
Dean Yu, CEO of Huawei Kenya, points out that the implementation of a safe city solution not only contributes to a reduction in crime, but helps to increase conviction rates as well.
“Because we have implemented car registration tracking and the collection of video records, if something happens, the evidence is there. This helps the police because they now have better evidence to present in court.”
But the story doesn’t end there: The hotel occupancy rate in Nairobi has also increased as much as 70% in the last year, and the city has hosted many more international conferences than ever.
Yu adds that the “soft” benefits of a safe city solution are hard to quantify. “Before we deployed this system, criminals could do what they wanted,” he says.
“But now that there are so many cameras across the city, it makes people think twice before they commit a crime. So whether the cameras are catching a crime or not, they are helping to reduce it by deterring potential criminals.”
Huawei has had a lot of practice with safe city solutions: it has deployed in 100 cities in close to 30 countries, serving about 400-million people.
“The Kenya case is the best success story in Africa,” Qui says. “The system in Nairobi was implemented in just half a year, and has been in service for one year now.”
Importantly, the Nairobi system integrates all the city’s emergency services: police, fire and emergency medical. “These three agencies can now synchronise with one another when there is an event to ensure the correct services arrive in the field at the right time.”
The Nairobi installation consisted of an integrated communications platform that brings in a number of different protocols from devices and sensors around the city, integrating with voice and video.
It also supports mobile integration and fixed integration.
Importantly, it can integrate feeds from just about any device, be it street lights or cameras, or even citizens’ smartphones.
Huawei also provided cameras and handsets that are ruggedised and include push-to-talk functionality. Existing handsets are also integrated into the solution.