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Avoiding and mitigating safety risks in urban environments

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - City.Risks (Avoiding and mitigating safety risks in urban environments)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2018-04-30

The main objective of the City.Risks project is to increase the perception of security of citizens in cities by activating in a more transparent and sustainable way their participation in communities, through which information and interventions can be provided both to proactively protect citizens from falling victims to criminal activities as well as to reactively provide more timely and effective response and assistance. In order to do so, the City.Risks project leverages a set of innovative technologies, city infrastructures, and available data sources, but more importantly aims at making the citizens' smart phones the modern tool for increasing their personal and collective sense of security.
To that end, the project designs and develops an innovative ecosystem of mobile services that transforms the smart phone or the tablet of the citizen into a tool that collects, visualises and shares safety-critical information with the appropriate authorities and communities.
The project relies on a wide spectrum of available technologies to design and implement an interactive framework among authorities and citizens through mobile applications that allow in a collaborative way to prevent or mitigate the impact of crime incidents or other security threats. In this sense, it contributes to an increase of the citizens' perception of security, which is measured and validated in real-life scenarios and conditions through the deployment and operation of pilot trials at several selected cities by the project partners. Moreover, to further found its sustainability, the project devises business models and replication plans of its results that will contribute in the next generation innovative security solutions for the future smart cities.
Since the beginning of the project, the following have been achieved:
• Extensive surveys have been carried out in order to identify the factors of fear of crime in urban environments, which also provided input to an analysis of security challenges in urban environments.
• Specific use cases for the City.Risks system have been identified, covering the following scenarios: theft of personal belongings; vehicle theft; information gathering and dissemination for ongoing events; tourists’ and womens’ safety; citizen engagement; neighbourhood safety.
• The architecture of the operations centre and the mobile applications has been specified and early versions of core software components of the system have been implemented.
• Compact and low-energy theft sensor devices have been implemented, tested and demonstrated in lab along with the accompanying mobile application.
• Several dissemination and communication activities have taken place in order to promote the project endeavor and results.
City.Risks progresses beyond the state-of-the-art in several technological fields in the wider domain of smart cities, mobile services and online communities. In specific, the project innovates:
• in the field of threats analysis, by focusing on comprehensive research of security threats and challenges at the neighbourhood level. Employing both models and surveys, it develops methods for analysing the environment to identify locations or areas susceptible to security threats;
• in the field of studying the sense of security, by analysing and understanding perceptions and fear of crime from citizens' perspectives, as well as developing more effective means for soliciting their engagement;
• in the field of crowdsourcing/crowdsensing, by developing novel approaches for enabling personalised, interactive, unobtrusive, user-friendly, bidirectional communication between the authorities and citizens (alerting/reporting) as well as among citizen communities;
• in the field of web data mining, by treating social media as a data source and leverage users as a real-time knowledge base for all sorts of urban activities;
• in the field of route planning, by introducing the safety dimension i.e. going beyond finding the shortest or fastest route between locations but also the safest route;
• in the field of emergency management, by designing and developing novel approaches and tools for citizen alerting and risk management and response.
• in the field of mobile augmented reality (mAR) by developing bidirectional mAR applications, allowing the users to add information to virtual objects and also visualizing threats and security-related information.
The project is expected to achieve significant impact in improving the sense of security among citizens and also in transforming the way citizens respond to security-related information and incidents. In particular, City.Risks will:
• contribute to reducing the fear of crime in urban areas, by at least 20%, as will be measured via surveys;
• demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of the solution in real-life trials in large urban environments;
• empower citizens, fostering their sense of belonging to a greater community and facilitate their engagement;
• provide new market opportunities, especially for SMEs to develop novel technologies and applications, by building upon open technologies and standards;