By Dan Evans, Head of Smart Cities and IoT, Itron

To help identify and act on current and potential future public safety threats, smart city technology is a critical resource for leaders of city councils.

Modern safety applications, powered by Industrial IoT (IIoT) infrastructure, utilise correlated sensor data from devices like flood monitoring sensors, pole tilt sensors, traffic monitoring sensors and air quality devices to identify trends and predict imminent danger, enabling cities to respond more effectively to ensure community safety.

As cities transition out of COVID-19 crisis mode, we will see renewed interest in smart city programs for public safety. The following is an outline of a few different applications that will help the leaders of city councils drive public safety initiatives.

Outsmarting natural disasters with IIOT

For cities, it can be challenging to ensure citizen and worker safety when natural disasters occur. Incidents such as cyclones, floods and bushfires are unpredictable and often hard to prevent. To put it in perspective, most people in recent history have lived through some disaster, with 87 per cent of consumers saying they’ve been impacted by one in the last five years (not counting the COVID pandemic).

Safety will only become more critical over the next few decades as natural disasters are becoming more frequent, intense, and costly.

Since 1970, the number of disasters worldwide has more than quadrupled to around 400 a year. Since 1998, natural disasters worldwide have killed more than 1.3 million people and left another 4.4 billion injured, homeless, displaced, or in need of emergency assistance.

Smart sensors and advanced analytics can help communities better predict, prepare, and respond to these emergency situations. For example, IIoT sensors, such as pole tilt, ambient noise, flood monitoring and air quality sensors, can be leveraged to mitigate risk and minimise damage.

Using sensors in tandem with predictive analytics, city governments can detect issues and drive outcomes during and after natural disasters, such as detecting floods and diverting traffic; detecting if a pole is down to prevent safety risks and promote quicker recovery efforts; pushing out alerts to communicate quickly with citizens, providing the most up-to-date information to ensure their safety; and utilising intelligent evacuation planning to best direct traffic and get people out of harm’s way quickly.

For example, when bushfires threaten regional air quality, communities can use smart sensors to predict which areas will be most impacted and take immediate action to alert nearby populations.

Technology to help prepare for future hazards

A smart city integrates technology to improve the social, environmental, and economic potential of its services to the community.

Becoming a smart city is an evolutionary process that involves an ongoing commitment to innovation from the city and the community with a long-term view. Besides the global impact of COVID-19 on day-to-day operations, cities in Australia had experienced the worst floods to date.

As cities and utilities look to improve their services and their citizens’ safety during these unprecedented times, smart city technology will become more important to better prepare for and react to the next safety hazard.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Itron. For further information, please visit

About the Author:

Dan Evans is Head of Smart Cities and IoT at Itron. Itron enables utilities and cities to safely, securely and reliably deliver critical infrastructure services to communities in more than 100 countries. Its proven portfolio of smart networks, software, services, meters and sensors helps our customers better manage energy and water for the people they serve.

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