Jan. 14, 2010

Securing a Modern Metropolis

Security Management for the Safe City Moscow Project

  • Torsten Anstaedt

At the moment there are are lot of discussions about an internal report by the Metropolitan police in London about the use of CCTV in city centers. The effectiveness of CCTV as a weapon against crime was thrown into doubt because figures in this report showed that only one crime per year is solved in London for every 1000 cameras. This shows that today's municipal security has to go far beyond the monitoring of selected sites. Modern integrated security systems must not only record and stream video but also analyze it intelligently, monitor all types of sensors, and provide automatic responses to problems. At the Safe City Moscow project Axxon has combined hardware, software and operational measures to provide video security, technical safety, and manage utilities and other distributed services. SafeCity is a multifunctional expandable solution built on an integrated modular distributed platform - Axxon Enterprise - with embedded intelligent data analysis.

Key Challenges

High crime rates, as well as a hostage taking in the Dubrovka Theater Center, threatened Moscow. Two-thirds of its residents felt unsafe in the face of crime. As a result, the city launched a program called Safety for Moscow and Muscovites. A city-wide electronic monitoring and response system was a critical part of this program, with specific requirements:

  1. Comprehensiveness. SafeCity had to work with and integrate any brand of equipment, sensor, task and units from different devices.

  2. Centralized and remote control. Local and remote administration was required to make implementation standardized and simpler.

  3. Scalable. SafeCity had to be infinitely scalable while maintaining fine-grained control.

  4. Hybrid system, allowing the user to monitor both IP and analogue video cameras, as well as bidirectional audio link for safety usage from panic buttons spread out throughout the whole city.

  5. Reliable and stable. Most importantly, Safe­City had to be functional around the clock.

A single proprietary product could not match the needs of a city the size of Moscow. The SafeCity project would provide an integrated, hybrid solution to city-sized security.


In March 2002, Planir Holdings Group worked on the first stage in the SafeCity project in the Tverskoy district, using Axxon Enterprise.

Meanwhile, several other districts launched similar projects based on alternative platforms, but it was quickly apparent that the other systems were much less powerful and functional. As a result, Axxon Enterprise was selected as the platform upon which Moscow's citywide security system would be built.
The initial SafeCity plan was to cover Moscow with a distributed network of panic buttons supporting direct video link and bidirectional audio connection with each security control room. Video was black & white and monitoring reaction was mainly after-the-fact. Additional considerations prompted a more comprehensive multilevel system, expanding the system functionality via video analytics and enhancing image quality (colour cameras, more resolution, more images per second stored). SafeCity would in this new approach protect sites including group dwellings, life support systems, schools, mass circulation areas, airports and railway stations, trains and subways, transportation and motorways, and television towers. The SafeCity implementation included over 26,000 CCTV cameras in Moscow, con­trolling over 10,000 doorways and mass circulation areas in ten districts. These sites are now covered by a single distributed scalable system controlled from a single center using the Axxon Enterprise integrated security platform. Currently, SafeCity Moscow is a +85,000 CCTV camera system including IP and megapixel cameras controlled and monitored from 80 control rooms in different districts of the city.
Vandal-resistant cameras monitor public areas, while access control prevents unauthorized entry, and flood, fire, and smoke sensors alert emergency personnel of problems. Meanwhile, water, gas, and electricity consumption is monitored to provide accurate billing and planning, and prevent leakage, overloads, and short circuits.
Panic buttons and emergency hotlines provide quick access to the police and militia in areas of mass circulation, while facial recognition enables identification and tracking of criminal suspects at airports and railway stations. Train and subway safety is ensured through video surveillance, as well as a permanent online link between all drivers and transport police officers. All stations and cars are equipped with fire fighting systems such as automatic fog scanners and ventilation units. PTZ cameras on motorways assist the police in resolving accident disputes, and surveillance of parking and business centers reduces theft. If a vehicle is stolen, video license plate recognition at key points in the city enables police to find it.


According to the Main Internal Affairs Directorate of Moscow, the SafeCity implementation has caused a dramatic reduction in burglaries and vandalism - drops of 12.5% and 33% respectively in the first six months of operation alone. Crime-solving rates have also increased. Alexander Chumachenko, Deputy Executive of Moscow Main Internal Affairs Directorate, believes that SafeCity had a role to play: "The presence of CCTV cameras makes people more disciplined, and provides an excellent deterrent to crime." Implementation uncovered other unforeseen benefi ts. Video surveillance now enables the government to monitor and control the quality of utility service providers' work. Building control systems allow for tight control over personnel activities, leading to more accurate accounting and technical supervision. And the number of actual residents can be calculated from utility resource usage - useful for checking migration law and tax compliance. SafeCity has been crowned a success by the professional community, as well. At the National Security International contest during the InterPolyTech 2004 International Exhibition, Axxon was awarded a medal and a ‘Guaranteed Quality and Safety' nomination diploma "for the development of the SafeCity digital integrated security system as the basis of the centralized citywide video monitoring solution in Moscow."

The Future

SafeCity Moscow is a permanently evolving and expanding project. It's designed for expansion so that existing systems can remain in use as new ones are installed. SafeCity will soon incorporate the Auto-Axxon Enterprise subsystem, which provides traffic control and automated license plate recognition. Ian Yafayev, SafeCity CTO, notes that Auto-Axxon Enterprise is "a very effective tool to deal with traffic congestion." As well, all doorways in Moscow will be equipped with cameras. Other cities are starting to deploy SafeCity, including St. Petersburg. SafeCity's modular structure means that each city can approach implementation in its own way as funds and resources become available.



AxxonSoft GmbH
Kreuzberger Ring 44A
65205 Wiesbaden
Phone: +49 611 1575140
Telefax: +49 611 1575141

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