When do you feel unsafe in the city? And what role can digitisation play in making us feel more at ease in the urban environment? Helsingborg has been transformed into a test bed for exploring how innovation can improve quality of life in the city and cater to the needs of its people. Part of this is seeing how technological advances can solve some of the everyday problems that concern residents, and create a more inclusive and safer society. Smart, right?
With funding from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), the City of Helsingborg collaborated with Lund University and AXIS to test whether unwanted graffiti could be detected with the help of IoT. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to all the physical devices that are now connected to the internet, where sensors allow them to communicate real-time data without people being involved in the process. Research has shown that certain behaviour gives rise to a feeling of insecurity among city residents, such as young people hanging around in gangs, vandalism, and unwanted graffiti. City-wide dialogue with around 800 Helsingborg residents revealed tunnels to be a common place where people feel unsafe, and so a pedestrian tunnel was chosen as a test site for the pilot project.
A six-month test period involved the installation of two cameras with sensor settings, which were adjusted several times to detect various behavioural patterns – time spent in the tunnel, clustering in groups, position in relation to different tunnel surfaces. During the period there were two incidents, one of which was detected by the sensors. There was a significant overall drop in reports of graffiti, from 3.33 average monthly reports to 0.75, and the local residents responded positively to the sensors.
The test has encouraged further discussion on interesting uses of IoT in our cities. By first looking at what we feel we need for a better city life, exciting digital developments can be used in making a smarter city for everyone. Read about other applications that use sensors for a safer city and how a network that started in Helsingborg is making new connections easy.