Sunderland in north-east England is implementing a new data platform to inform action on issues such as anti-social behaviour, social care, health, and environmental incidents.
The ConnexinOS platform, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify trends in datasets and suggest the best course of action, will pool data from the council and third parties to support early intervention and coordinated multi-agency responses.
Liz St Louis, Assistant Director of Smart Cities at Sunderland City Council, told capitaltribunenews.com: “We were spending an awful lot of time trying to match spreadsheets and trying to work things out, whereas the system should automate some of that, allowing us to focus more on what the information is telling us.”
She added: “Sometimes when you look at data in isolation, it doesn’t tell you that somebody might need support but when you look at data together, it can give you a very different picture.”
This could include flagging additional benefits or discounts that people are entitled to, ensuring bins are in the right place and of a sufficient number, or deploying more wardens to areas seeing higher instances of fly-tipping or graffiti.
Ben Pocock, IoT Product Specialist at Connexin, gave the following example: “ConnexinOS can take anti-social behaviour data and start to understand where these incidents are occurring and display them on maps through GIS and begin to analyse trends between anti-social behaviour and other factors such as weather, footfall or other potential lead indicators within CityOS.”
He explained: “This then helps organisations such as Sunderland City Council to understand if there are any correlations between different datasets. For example, it could be that the warmer the weather, the more anti-social behaviour there’s likely to be in areas of the city in lower council tax bands. ConnexinOS can identify these lead indicators and advise stakeholders that there may likely be increased risk in certain areas of the city and send alerts and notifications to the related people who need to be aware or coordinate response.”
The data platform will be used as part of the city’s plans to rejuvenate the Southwick area and to support the SARA (Southwick Altogether Raising Aspirations) partnership, which is addressing issues such as crime and disorder, mental health and unemployment, and helping to shape the priorities for the district.
The contract between Sunderland City Council and Connexin will run for three years and also includes training through the Connexin Academy for unemployed residents and young people.
St Louis commented: “Connexin’s experience in delivering end-to-end smart city projects with an agile, flexible and collaborative approach meant they were the perfect partners to meet our needs in the short term, but also increasing the scope and capabilities of the platform into the future.”
This could include adding data on traffic and transport flows, flood prevention and CCTV, for example.
St Louis said that ensuring data-sharing protocols, privacy and security has been fundamental since the beginning of the project.
Sunderland recently announced a 20-year partnership with BAI Communications to design, build and operate advanced digital infrastructure including a private 5G small cell network.
Connexin has also worked with cities including Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle.
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