Imagine the scene. It’s 10pm on a Saturday night on the Las Vegas strip. The sound of gunshots pierces the night air. To the human ear, the location of the shots is unclear. But a network of audio sensors immediately identifies the exact location of the gunshots and sends an alert to the Las Vegas police.

Video cameras follow-up with high-definition (HD) footage of the people at the incident, allowing the emergency services to deploy a tailored response.

This may sound fanciful, but a recently announced initiative between Dell Technologies and Japan’s NTT Group aims to significantly improve the speed and precision of emergency responses to public safety incidents.

It also has potential to transform Las Vegas into a model smart city for other US cities to follow. The initiative was unveiled at the recent Dell Technologies World conference in Las Vegas, and involves the deployment of a “proof of concept” smart city solution for improving public safety and incident response times.

Las Vegas test area

The solution will be applied within the city’s so-called innovation district, a large area of central Las Vegas that was established in 2016 as a test bed for Internet of Things (IoT) projects.

It aims to generate data that can be used by the police and emergency services in their response to potential public safety incidents. Once proof of concept has been successfully completed, NTT plans to introduce similar smart city initiatives elsewhere in the US.

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The new smart city solution for Las Vegas will combine technologies from both Dell and NTT and will include ultra-HD cameras and internet-connected sensors for collecting data and video footage, as well as a network of distributed IoT gateways and micro data centres to process acquired data.

What happens to the data?

Data and video footage collected by the sensors and cameras will be sent to local IoT gateways and micro data centres for processing. Data processing will involve the use of diagnostic and predictive analytics to support real-time decision-making about the value of specific data.

Only data considered to require further investigation will be sent to a central data centre, therefore filtering and minimising the amount of data transported across local networks.

Las Vegas has seen the application of other smart city projects for improving public safety.

For example, audio technology being tested in two separate locations of the city enables the police to pinpoint the exact location of gunfire and respond accordingly. The technology started testing in November and has since resulted in several arrests and firearm confiscations.

Other safe smarty city initiatives

Other smart city initiatives underway in Las Vegas include the use of sensors to improve the flow of road traffic, to alert municipal authorities when garbage cans are filling up, and to show where people are jaywalking.

Although most smart city initiatives are in the early stages and are not without their challenges, they ultimately promise to harness the power of data processing and analytics to improve the quality and safety of human life in urban areas.