Why it's time to continue making our cities safer for the crowd

Genetec Australia Pty Ltd

By William Glasson, Regional Sales Manager, Genetec
Monday, 01 July, 2024

Why it's time to continue making our cities safer for the crowd

Along with cost of living, population growth has emerged as a hot button topic here in Australia in recent times. Years of high immigration have led to rapid growth, both in the number of people who call Australia home, temporarily and permanently, and in the size of our major urban centres.

Our two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are expected to have populations of 6 million and 6.2 million respectively by 30 June, 2031, according to the Australian Government Centre for Population’s Population Statement 2023. Meanwhile Brisbane, once regularly described as a big country town, is on track to become anything but, with its total population expected to hit 2.9 million within seven years, up from 2018–19’s 2.5 million. It’s a broadly similar story in the smaller state capitals.

With more people choosing to settle in major urban centres, ensuring there’s the infrastructure there to accommodate them comfortably — think roads, schools, hospitals et al — is a major challenge for state and federal governments alike.

Enhancing the safety and security of the community

Equally important, although perhaps less regularly raised, is the requirement to keep our expanding population safe — without restricting growth, commerce or the ability of Australians to go about their daily lives unimpeded. That’s challenging, given a typical city comprises a complex and diverse ecosystem of institutions and infrastructure. Disruptions can cause a cascade of effects, such as, for example, when a downtown fire triggers the suspension of public transport services in the vicinity of the blaze.

Hence, civic leaders, transport providers, emergency services and other stakeholders need to plan, detect and respond to incidents rapidly and effectively. Wherever possible, they should prevent them occurring in the first place.

Indeed, the power of federation, one in which multiple entities such as emergency services, transit authorities, city managers, businesses and community leaders can partner in a meaningful way to achieve a common purpose regarding urban security, is ideal. More than a network, partnerships that are federated enable stakeholders to enhance the capacity of each other to prepare, respond and investigate.

Seeing the big picture

This is where unified security technology has a critical part to play. The term unified security refers to security technologies that are developed as one platform. Different systems can be turned on and off as needed but the connections between them can’t be broken because it’s the same piece of code.

Having a unified physical solution in place, consolidating information from various public and private organisations, enables a city to respond swiftly to incidents as they occur. It’s a powerful tool for dispatchers and emergency responders, who can use it to make data-driven decisions about where resources are best allocated, in order to safeguard the public and mitigate disruption and damage.

It can facilitate open communication between institutions and stakeholders, and assist them to resolve incidents and restore services faster. Planners, meanwhile, can use the insights generated by a unified security platform to identify vulnerabilities and prepare for the worst, by shoring up protections and developing and improving best practices for incident response.

Protecting personal privacy

Building a safer city doesn’t have to come at the expense of citizens’ privacy either. While many people harbour understandable concerns about the rise of ‘big brother’ surveillance, those fears can be mitigated if cities invest in security technology that has privacy and cybersecurity safeguards embedded.

Australia’s stringent privacy regimen mandates that organisations — government agencies included — be accountable for how they collect, manage and share personal and biometric data.

With the right posture, cities should be able to have open, respectful conversations with individuals and businesses about their concerns. Being transparent about when and where data is collected and stored allows authorities to showcase how it’s keeping citizens safe, and city life vibrant.

Investing in a safer tomorrow

As our population continues to grow, maintaining the safety of Australians will become an increasingly pressing imperative for the lawmakers and institutions whose job it is to ensure our major centres are enjoyable, well-functioning and safe.

Harnessing the power of unified security technology will enable them to enhance situational awareness, promote open communication between stakeholders and prevent and manage incidents more effectively. It’s an investment in livability and sustainability that will serve citizens and visitors alike well, today and for generations to come.

Top image credit: iStock.com/Kirsten Walla

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