As the most populous city in the state of Tasmania, Hobart's imprint on the map of Australasia includes twenty suburbs. On weekdays, however, a large percentage of the greater community of 218,000 can be found in the metropolitan area for work, shopping, business or leisure. Traffic management plays a major role in the quality of life: and the City of Hobart takes a proactive approach with the tech tools they use to drive their vision of being a smart and safe city.
Challenge: upgrading scattered components, inefficient storage
When the City of Hobart conducted an audit of their video cameras in 2020, many were found to be non-functional and were not operating under any form of centralised management. Furthermore, there was no common storage for the networked camera streams, so data had to be downloaded manually in order to obtain video footage.
"The network had come together over time, so it lacked cohesion and oversight. Some cameras weren't working, many had not been updated, and there was no real governance over the network." Dylan Styles, City Security Project Officer at City of Hobart.
The City then undertook the process of upgrading cameras, storage equipment and associated network infrastructure.
Solution: Central governance rules data security and control
The Council's security team upgraded to fibre network backbone and links, as well as deploying Milestone's XProtect Video Management Software (VMS) platform. This allowed them to take controlled ownership of the entire network of more than 240 cameras, plus sensors.
"There are now more than 370 streams feeding back into Milestone's platform, which allows us to manage all aspects of our safer cities program from the one central point. We also adhere to extremely strict rules around data governance and security, and many features of the Milestone XProtect platform aid us in that," says Dylan Styles, City Security Project Officer at City of Hobart.
Citizen safety, city efficiency via IoT sensor intelligence
The City of Hobart Council chose Milestone XProtect software for the level of control it provides for all devices on the network, coupled with the ability to integrate with a wide variety of camera makes and models.
"Milestone allows us to integrate with other systems. The support we get from Milestone is great, and the team there are very engaged with our ideas and keen to help us innovate," says Robert Stevenson, Manager, Smart and Sustainable Hobart.
Video tech steers Smart City operations beyond security
Looking to the future and Hobart's objective of managing and running a modern, world-class capital city, the security team was moved within the Council's Smart Cities unit. This allows the existing and upgraded system infrastructure to be used for much more than security, spreading the capital expense of an improved camera network far beyond the act of city surveillance.
The placement of the security camera network under the Connected City banner makes the network exponentially more versatile and a powerful tool for citizen safety, efficiency and intelligence.
"By maximising the use of our security technology and adding sensors and analytics, we are able to effectively kill two birds with one stone. Our security network has become more than the sum of its parts and gives us real Smart City capabilities," Stevenson says.
Fast Licence Plate Recognition and Speedy Search
Council carparks also benefit from the Smart City features, with Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) technology feeding into the Milestone platform. The Council monitors the number of vehicles in a particular carpark, how long they are parking for, and how many vehicles come and go at specific times of the day.
Using Milestone's advanced search tools, the City of Hobart can also provide fast and accurate evidence to police in the case of motor vehicle accidents. Rather than track through hours of camera footage looking for a specific incident, they can very quickly locate a specific time and event, allowing police to intercede and, in certain cases such as hit-and-run accidents, trace and apprehend suspects.
"Milestone's search capabilities are very sophisticated. They have reduced the time it takes us to find specific footage by around 95% by allowing us to pinpoint a specific time across all our camera streams accurately and quickly," says Dylan Styles, City Security Project Officer, City of Hobart.
Safe City Hub sees a unified overview, remotely
The Milestone XProtect solution has also empowered City of Hobart to set up a Safe City Hub with one single point of reference for all the cameras. From there, administrators can efficiently track activity across the city network, as well as hold full accountability for the operation of cameras, including firmware updates, changing resolution and camera angles, plus general remote maintenance of the cameras and network. Police and emergency services also utilise the Hub alongside Council officers to efficiently manage operations across the city during emergencies or significant events.
The Safe City Hub also provides a greater overview for special events, such as street closures, markets and sporting fixtures, whereby event stakeholders can engage with pedestrian traffic across the entire city or areas specific to the event.
Smart City benefits attract investors
Positioning Hobart as a modern, Smart City also has farther-reaching benefits for potential investors. For example, should a developer express interest in a certain site with a view to building up a retail or commercial precinct, the Council is able to provide intelligence on that site to aid in the decision-making process.
"We can quickly supply interested parties with the volume of pedestrian traffic at an intersection at various times of the day, allowing them to make accurate and informed decisions about viable retail sites," Stevenson says.
Looking to the future, the Smart City team will explore expanding LPR technologies to gain deeper insights into traffic movement. Also in the pipeline is the development of integrated sports ground lighting, whereby administrators can switch views to a camera at a sporting ground to confirm whether lights are actually on or off, reducing whether Council staff need to check a venue in person.
Results: Deep insights empower decision making
Following the deployment of Milestone XProtect and associated hardware, the City of Hobart has a state-of-the-art security camera network that gives greater visibility over public spaces, coupled with advanced capabilities to manage, control and understand the flow of pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic around the city. The addition of smart nodes and sensors at key points of the network provides deep insights for Council employees and empowers smart decision-making.
City of Hobart is now able to monitor pedestrian traffic discreetly and accurately at critical parts of the city, including road crossings and public spaces. This allows the City to make informed decisions about the safety of constituents, as well as optimising infrastructure such as traffic lights.
"The ability to link other systems to Milestone is great for us, providing the capability of looking at a specific area or incident, then activating other systems to help us resolve or understand what is happening. It allows us to manage the city better," Stevenson says.
The Smart City features also extend to things like using a network of sensors to monitor rainfall and river levels, and automatically control elements of the city's lighting. The cameras become an integral part of the lighting system, so remote staff can determine whether lights are on and working as intended.
With existing technology and plans for future expansion of its network and analytic capabilities, City of Hobart is at the forefront of Smart City development – not just in Australia, but across the world.
"Milestone is incredibly powerful when it comes to integrating with other systems. That flexibility gives us the ability to innovate," Stevenson adds.