Innovating for a Safer Future: How The Municipality of The Hague and Dutch Police are Creating a Smarter City Together at SHIELD
The municipality of The Hague has long had an eye towards innovation and its future as a smart city. Simultaneously yet separately, the Dutch Police have had innovation labs and have been working towards creating smarter and safer solutions for the future. The five largest cities of the Netherlands came together to work with the national Dutch Police in order to formalise networks and find joint solutions. This resulted in the creation of SHIELD (Safety Hub for Innovation and Exploration to Learn from Digitalization) now located at HSD.
SHIELD is led by representatives from both the city of The Hague and the police. Max van Meerten is an advisor for Digital Innovation and Smart City for the Municipality, with his main focus being on innovative security projects. He works alongside Sven de Laaf, the innovation lead for labs within the Police, who is responsible for cooperation between the municipality and the police. SHIELD is like everything within this cooperation, a test site and an opportunity for learning and development. Will having Max and Sven in an office together help improve the speed of innovation on joint projects? “Can we do it together and innovate therefore quicker?” asked Max, adding “can we develop more innovations together because we’re in one room.” The hope is that the Innovatie Hub will answer these questions with a resounding yes, and the early results look very promising.
Their largest project to date has been the Crowd Safety Manager (CSM) which launched its first test last summer at Scheveningen in The Hague. This cooperative project between the police and the city uses crowd data to monitor and predict crowd behaviour, threat points, and congestion. The CSM comes in the form of a 3D map and a digital twin that shows how busy an area is at a given time and the level of congestion heading to that area. The system uses both open source data from sources such as GPS data and from closed data sources in and around Scheveningen. With a “real time 3D image of the city, we can zoom in on certain problem areas and we can also [make predictions],” Sven shared. “That helps us to take measures so everybody can enjoy the day at the beach,” Max added. The CSM has been tested at the Invictus Games in The Hague and at last year’s Vuelta (a bike race) in Utrecht. The pilot project has been given a green light to continue and to further develop. There are plans to use it also during the King’s Night festival in The Hague and during the King’s visit to Rotterdam on King’s Day. “We’re going to use [it] during the summer again and we’re going to expand it with hopefully more data,” announced Sven. The Innovatie Hub is also currently working with TU Delft to further develop the prediction model.
Another innovative project in the works will deal with drone detection. Sven explained that “we know there are a lot of drones in the air, but we don’t know who they are from.” The Police have their own drones working in the city and there are many drones in Scheveningen for environmental research, but the lack of knowledge about who is flying them and their purpose constitutes a public safety concern. Additionally, drones can be used to smuggle contraband into prisons like the one in Scheveningen. “Without proper detection, it’s hard to create and manage airspace,” surmised Max. The hope is to be able to incorporate drone detection as an additional layer within the Crowd Safety Manager, while allowing friendly and licensed drones to fly freely without suspicion.
SHIELD joined HSD after a broad and comprehensive search of potential locations for the initiative. In addition to the obvious benefits such as the close proximity to a major train station, Sven and Max both stressed the importance of the network and being among companies with whom they can have interesting and generative conversations. Max commented that “The Hague is the front runner for the safety [and] security topic in the Smart City area,” and HSD is an important hub in the city focused on these pressing issues. SHIELD recently held an opening event where they shared with other community members what their projects are and what they are looking to achieve. They hope to work with companies who are looking to innovate, to run small scale testing and innovative projects, especially around privacy protection. As Sven said, “if the lights are on, come in.”