AI in public safety: a Southeast Asia perspective

Public safety agencies across Southeast Asia find that rapid urbanisation complicates their task of ensuring public safety and well-being. Economic growth has led to urban sprawl, putting pressure on expanding cities. Nations adopting Smart City initiatives to cope with this growth face a data deluge that threatens their ability to respond to incidents and emergencies.

Southeast Asia has been urbanising at an impressive rate. According to the 2022 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Sustainable Urbanisation Report, nearly 50.1% of the region’s population lived in urban areas in 2020. This figure is expected to rise to 55.7% by 2030, with the urban population reaching almost 405 million out of a total population of nearly 726 million

Urbanisation and the strain on public safety

Rapid urbanisation brings with it public safety challenges. Surging growth in cities can lead to outdated legislation and ordinances; inadequate staffing, skills, and technological capabilities; and insufficient infrastructure. These factors can negatively affect the ability of police, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies to respond quickly to crises.

Over the years, many agencies have deployed computer-aided dispatch (CAD) solutions to handle calls, manage incidents, and dispatch first responders to the scene of emergencies. The challenge now is to improve these CAD systems to meet the evolving needs of cities under strain.

Public safety challenges in smart cities

Some cities in Southeast Asia who have implemented smart city solutions now face a different public safety challenge. Smart cities use Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, where interconnected sensors collect and analyse data to improve residents’ quality of life. Such technologies are aimed at mitigating the severe strain that rapid urbanisation and population growth impose on public services and deliver an improved quality of life for their citizens. However, smart cities generate enormous volumes of complex data that flood in from multiple sources, which can overwhelm dispatch centres and emergency response services.

Emergency control rooms must deal with real-time data from IoT devices, operational systems, closed-circuit TV and surveillance systems, body-worn cameras, social media feeds, as well as from GPS and mapping systems. They must then cross-reference all that information against historical data to extract actionable insights from their CAD application for their dispatchers and response teams.

AI answer for public safety leaders

There is a potential solution to these challenges facing public safety leaders across the region: CAD solutions integrated with assistive artificial intelligence (AI).

Agencies in rapidly growing cities can find themselves overwhelmed with data from various sources. Assistive AI-augmented CAD applications can process this data in real time to provide life-saving insights. The outcome is quicker and more effective responses to incidents and emergencies, resulting in improved public safety for all residents.

Assistive AI functions by filling in operational blind spots during complex, unfolding emergencies. It provides continuous, autonomous assessments and offers agencies richer, actionable insights that might otherwise be overlooked. Additionally, assistive AI can identify patterns in repeat offences and linked incidents over time, alerting agencies to these trends. Access to such diverse, real-time information enables police and emergency management to deploy resources more quickly.

Real-time collaboration for incident response with assistive AI

Some cities can also use collaboration software that goes beyond CAD solutions. This software employs assistive AI to facilitate improved information sharing not just with other public safety agencies, but also with municipal offices and private organisations. Consider, for instance, a large-scale sporting event like the F1 Singapore Grand Prix, which attracts a crowd of over 300,000 people. Ensuring safety in such a setting is a colossal task that requires coordination among various police, fire, and EMS agencies, as well as with government authorities, event organisers, businesses, hotels, and transport providers

In partnership with networked, collaborative workspace solutions, assistive AI can lighten the load of information sharing, coordination, and planning. It provides organisations with critical incident information and ongoing updates as situations evolve in real time. For example, if assistive AI detects a potential traffic bottleneck, it can alert the transport authority to proactively open additional lanes and suggest alternative routes for EMS responders.

Moving forward with innovation

Ensuring public safety is a complex task, and agencies that are overworked and under pressure often struggle to manage it effectively. Technological innovation offers a way to modernise and future-proof their incident management capabilities.

Rapid urbanisation will persist in cities across Southeast Asia, making the safety and well-being of citizens an ongoing challenge. The good news is that advanced solutions are now available to help agencies adapt to the evolving needs of their communities, ensuring the safety of both current and future generations.