With the support of our committed group of end-users and external experts, we have concluded the piloting phase of S4AllCities with less than two months left before the end of the project. Over the course of the past 12 months, we have successfully carried out three campaigns, through which we tested and demonstrated the capabilities of the S4AllCities platform; the smart cities that hosted those campaigns were Trikala (Greece), Pilsen (Czech Republic) and Bilbao (Spain).
Two of the demonstration events were semi-dynamic, in the sense that the threats designed to be detected or modelled by the comprising modules were enacted by project partners, and the results presented to an audience of experts on the Common Operational Picture (COP). The other demonstration event was part of an official police exercise consisting of real deployment of forces, which provided a fantastic opportunity to assess the compatibility of the S4AllCities solution with early warning protocols and crisis response operations. End-users saw the value in both demonstration approaches and were impressed with what they have witnessed during the three campaigns.
Overall, end-users conveyed a very positive assessment of the S4AllCities platform. They considered it a highly innovative and well-developed system that addresses the security challenges of smart cities within the requirements of today’s societies, and that combines its components very successfully. They found the project to be “of significant importance to the security of urban areas in the future that will increasingly utilise and depend on data. There is a strong link between city resilience and sustainability, especially at the social level, which S4AllCities has articulated extremely well. By adopting a responsible and socially sensitive approach the project addressed many common misconceptions about security.”
End-users appreciated the value of sensing tools (such as video analytics or sensors for chemical precursors), simulation tools (e.g., for crowd modelling and evacuation) and the COP for early warning, enhanced situational awareness and decision-making. They also recognized the great support the platform’s tools can provide to planning efforts and after-action reports.
The main advantages of S4AllCities, end-users noted, were its versatility (represented by the possibility to easily integrate legacy systems) and the complementarity of the different modules that increase the reliability of the data sources and alert reasoning. While the integration of multiple sensors and different technologies was deemed a great advantage, end-users recognized this could also be a weakness in light of the complexity it adds to the overall system. Alongside the lengthy processes of GDPR compliance and the potentially high costs of technology acquisition, deployment and maintenance, perhaps the most pressing weakness for end-users is the imaturity of S4AllCities relative to smaller-scale but market-ready solutions. Yet this constitutes an opprtunity for improvement.
End-users see a future version of S4AllCities, in which the platform’s tools are adapted to additional smart cities, each with its legacy systems and distinctive threat scenarios; a version in which the performance of the relevant tools is fine-tuned to the sometimes challenging operational environment conditions; and a version in which technical support and training are standardized and readily available.