Cisco Systems today announced the launch of its City Operations Center platform, which is designed to let enterprise officials view myriad forms of information—video, sensor findings, location information and other data—in a “single pane of glass view,” according to Cisco Systems employees.

With the populations in global cities growing steadily, municipal officials are seeking methods to ensure that their jurisdictions’ infrastructure is operating properly at all times—and detect problems quickly, so they can be addressed, according to Brooke Raffetto, a senior product manager for Cisco Systems.  

“What the City Operations Center does is provide data visualization and management across a number of different city systems and services,” Raffetto said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “The City Operations Center provides a common visualization platform for these different applications. By doing so, it enables and fosters collaboration amongst the different city systems.”

Myriad city systems can be integrated into the City Operations Center platform, from sensor data associated with parking/traffic systems to feeds from video-surveillance cameras. Although video-surveillance systems have become more popular in recent years, they have not been a practical option for some municipalities that lack the high-bandwidth connectivity needed to support the constant monitoring of various cameras.

To reduce the need for bandwidth, Cisco Systems uses a patented pixel-on-demand technology that “optimizes the way video feeds are processed,” Raffetto said. “What it does is it transmits only the change in pixels that are required. So, it requests only needed pixels, and it sends only needed pixels.”

This video-processing approach can dramatically reduce the amount of bandwidth used by a video system, depending on the type of video being monitored, according to Munish Khetrapal, managing director of solutions and product management for Cisco Systems’ smart and connected communities. Greater bandwidth savings are realized when less action occurs within a video frame, because fewer pixels need to change, he said.

“Let’s say that you have a video camera looking at a street,” Khetrapal said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “In 70-80% of that street, there’s nothing changing. What [the pixel-on-demand technology] does is only transmit the changing pixels; it does not transmit the non-changing pixels. When you aggregate that information, it knows that these are the changing pixels that I can redraw that stuff … dynamically, without losing any quality with that capability.”

“It can be up to 99.5% savings, but it depends on the scenario. On an average, we haven’t seen less than 50% percent savings.”

The bandwidth savings can become more predictable when the pixel-on-demand technology is applied at a point in the network where multiple video feeds are aggregated, Khetrapal said.

“If you have five cameras in a specific domain, let’s say you have one camera with a lot of action happening and four cameras with almost no action happening,” he said. “When you statistically aggregate all of that information across those five cameras, you still achieve 80% to 90% savings.”