Smart city innovation for public safety in the Asia-Pacific region

Throughout the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, Hexagon has provided software for smart and safe cities, improving the performance, efficiency and resilience of vital services for more than 30 years. From its HxGN OnCall suite of computer-aided dispatch (CAD) solutions to its artificial intelligence solution, HxGN OnCall Dispatch | Smart Advisor, Hexagon has been at the forefront of innovation that allows APAC emergency first responders to be in the best and safest position to perform their duties.

As the region grows and changes, what further role can innovation play to help keep the region safe?


Urbanisation is increasing around the world, and especially in the APAC region, particularly in the south. Australia’s level of urbanisation is a staggering 77%, far higher than the rest of the world, which, according to the United Nations (UN), is around 55%. Having such a high proportion of the population residing in urban areas highlights the need for smart city technologies that can improve the way of life for citizens and visitors.

Southeast Asian cities comprise 47% of APAC’s population, with urbanization rates ranging from a low of 20% in Cambodia to 53% in Indonesia and 100% in Singapore, according to UN data. It is projected that by the year 2040, urban regions in Southeast Asia will account for 60% of the region’s total population.

Turning toward innovation

To accommodate this expansion, today’s cities are taking advantage of a wide range of innovations to become true smart cities and meet the growing need for citizen services and safety. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), global spending on smart city initiatives totaled nearly $124 billion in 2020. It’s expected to reach $135 billion this year, and by 2025, the APAC region is predicted to account for $800 billion, or 40%, of global smart city spending.

Smart cities are safe cities

What is a smart city? The Smart Cities Council says a smart city, “uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its livability, workability and sustainability.” It collects data, communications it and analyzes it to improve decision-making.

Safety in cities depends on multiple services working with singular purpose on common objectives. However, there is currently no overall view of risk, no single responsible authority and no unified funding that spans across public and private sector services and levels of government. Technology can help APAC region cities overcome these challenges to become safer and more resilient. Connectivity between systems, collaboration between teams and greater intelligence in operations leads to sustainable solutions and more accountable services.

Smart cities and IoT

Data collection, including in real time, is clearly important to smart cities, which is why Internet of Things (IoT) applications are powering smart city initiatives around the world.

These applications give city leaders, municipal agencies and other stakeholders the ability to remotely monitor, manage and control devices. However, for smart cities to operate effectively, they need to translate this data into real-time situational awareness that improves safety and quality of life for citizens.

By combining historical data with live streams from IoT sensors and applications, cities can create new insights and actionable information. The rise of real-time, IoT-driven sensors that are connected to dynamic information systems allows today’s smart cities to operate in safe, connected, digital-first ecosystems that transform citizen services.

Smart cities and big data analytics

Technology is helping produce more information than ever before. The challenge facing public safety agencies is how to make sense of all this information to improve operational processes, and, more importantly, turn public safety efforts from solely reactive to proactive. Incoming data must be sanitized, aggregated and visualized in a manner that supports pattern recognition and anomaly identification, which provides more informed data insight to the non-technical members of a public safety organization — including officers in the field and detectives.

A necessity to achieve these results is understanding, “where?” Where is data coming from? Where are urban problems occurring? Where must a city invest resources?

Today, geospatial technologies offer much more than mapping and layers of information. A geographic information system (GIS) can be integrated with non-spatial data, multiple databases, multiple systems and real-time sensors and devices. In addition, a GIS can be made available in cloud, web, mobile or desktop environments. A GIS is a solution that can capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and present all types of data in a geographical context.

Smart cities and incident management

Many APAC cities now have access to next-generation CAD incident management capabilities. Hexagon’s OnCall suite, for example, supports on-premises, customer-hosted, cloud or Software as a Service (SaaS) deployments. The intelligent software suite provides superior incident management capabilities in the public safety answering point (PSAP), emergency control room, station, unit and anywhere else first responders need to go.

Geospatial technologies can help city leaders bring their smart city visions fully to life by turning location-based data into location intelligence to empower quality of life and safety-related city developments. For example, smart monitoring of power and water systems can lead to earlier identification of disruptions and get services back online quickly for public utilities, driving more efficient infrastructure operations and management.

Intelligence is a critical component of any decision support system. The process of creating reliable, accurate intelligence is a dynamic and never-ending cycle. The cycle begins with questions – the answers to which inevitably lead to more questions that become the beginning of the next cycle. The dynamic nature of the cycle means that traditional GIS – static maps and analysis – are quite literally outdated. Using traditional GIS, by the time a static map is created and styled, the data has changed to the point that the answer is weeks or months old.

Allowing you to easily monitor real-world changes, evaluate the impact and act on the results, Hexagon’s M.App Enterprise provides a unified geospatial enterprise platform that enables customers and partners to configure vertical solutions for their markets and industry segments.

It lets you smartly monitor infrastructure, traffic, land parcels and any assets by processing all your sensor, weather and operational data in a single platform. Leverage machine learning algorithms, visualize the results in 2D and 3D in interactive dashboards, and set up workflows for fieldworkers to capture information on mobile devices.

Smart cities and collaboration

A true smart city is comprised of an ecosystem where all participants – from the private and public sectors to non-governmental organizations to citizens – benefit and gain value from investments. Going beyond typical coordination, true collaboration brings together all parts of this ecosystem where cities gain a wider shared awareness to give richer context around plans, locations, resources, assets and actions to better inform operations and enable coordination.

Enhanced shared awareness tools can bridge the gaps across organizations to help coordinate actions by sharing data from departmental systems of record. These tools can be used every day across incidents in the region and scale to support major events.

Modern collaboration technologies like HxGN Connect, our new cloud-native SaaS collaborative workspace, make smart city transformation more achievable. Connect allows you to share data and coordinate action based on different types of data. It complements organizations’ existing systems, providing a richer, unified view of information with built-in messaging and tasking to enable day-to-day and ad hoc engagement as well as ongoing, structured collaboration. Users can easily connect and update data, message and assign tasks to users and break down barriers between departments, organizations, cities and regions.

Innovation toward a sustainable and safe future

As rapid changes to technology are coupled with accelerated citizen demand in APAC cities, today’s smart city solutions must be capable of adapting quickly and affordably.

This means enhancing the efficiency of all urban operations and services while also meeting the needs of future generations. As such, all smart city technologies should have an eye towards the future and should be easily replicated as a city evolves.

The future of smart city technology is now. Today’s cities are paving the way for critical innovations that will enhance the quality of life for all citizens. Learn more about how Hexagon’s solutions empower smart cities around the globe.

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