Devon and Cornwall Police combined market leading mapping solutions from Precisely with cutting edge 3D visualisations to create a digital twin of the location - informing security planning at the world leaders’ event.
The local police force broke new ground in the use of location data for public safety last year when it added a 3D element to its planning for the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay.
Its geographic information system (GIS) and mapping manager Robert Goldsmith outlined the project at UKAuthority's Smart Places and Communities conference, providing a compelling example of how location data can be used in planning for and responding to emergencies – and made clear the approach could have a wider application across the public sector.
The force had a massive responsibility in providing security for the meeting of leaders of the world’s major democracies. It had to work with a wide range of UK and overseas partners in planning for every possible threat or risk to the event, which was spread over several sites across the two main venues. It also had to support the planning of routes taken by the summit participants into, around, and out of the venue zone, and identify dispersal zones to be kept clear during the event.
Driving location based insight with mapping tools
The force’s GIS team took the lead on the project, starting by creating 2D mapping in Precisely MapInfo Pro. Gridded map books were created to allow officers and staff to work easily and efficiently with external stakeholders, with each grid being shared digitally through their corporate GIS systems and in hard copy format through printed A3 books. External datasets from other GIS units were also fed into the GIS solution to seamlessly connect different formats for maximum context.
These insights were then further enriched through the addition of route planning information and points of interest data including mobile cell masts, bus stops, footpaths and footbridges – collaborating with the local council, fire, and ambulance services to identify any information that may be crucial when planning for the summit.
This location-intelligent basis provided the perfect platform to start building out a 3D view.
Adding 3D visualisation
The GIS team then used aerial imagery taken from drone footage, combined with other data from partners such as Ordnance Survey, to build a detailed 3D model of the area - taking in features such as drains, bushes and entry points to buildings to support the planning.
As a further step, it became the first police force in the world to acquire the NavVis VLX indoor 3D scanner, a wearable device that enables a user to walk through a building and create 360-degree visualisations of the rooms that can be integrated with mapping data. In turn, this can be used to create digital twins and securely shared with as many partners as necessary.
Over 22 days the details of two venues – Carbis Bay Hotel and Tregenna Castle – were captured, covering over 140,000 square metres, feeding into the digital twin shared with the partners on an AWS server.
“The system allows us to view the floorplans alongside 360 imagery,” said Goldsmith. “We were also able to add in key intelligence such as access points. These points of interest could link directly to videos or other media on secure drives.
“All of the data was georeferenced on a map which allowed easy navigation of our venues. This data was then accessible by our partners who could view or venues from any phone, tablet or laptop anywhere in the country. These insights benefitted a wide range of stakeholders such as our firearms, ops planning, and counter drone teams, and even external partners including the US Secret Service.”
Contingency planning with 5mm accuracy
Personal protection officers for the heads of government were able to explore the sites in detail, assessing roads and paths around buildings and the interior layouts without having to travel there – an advantage that was important during the Covid-19 pandemic and contributed to the green efforts of all the organisations.
All of the planned routes for motorcades and between buildings on the sites were shared with security personnel, enabling them to register any concerns and plan their operations.
Firearms officers were able to follow the routes, examining which rooftops and windows provided a view and identifying the nature of the buildings through other data laid over the visualisations. This helped with their placing of officers with a clear view of in advance of what they could and could not see.
Using virtual reality headsets, they could also see inside the buildings, looking at layouts of rooms, access points and internal routes to identify risk points and support a rapid response to any emergency. The system gave them the ability to see exactly what they would see as they entered and moved around a room, with the capacity to measure the distances between points and objects to an accuracy of 5mm.
“It meant that highly accurate floorplans and 360-degree image walkthroughs could be used. Imagine Google Street View but with the ability to see inside every building,” Goldsmith said. “This allowed us to have a complete model of the operation before it had even begun.”
The G7 Summit went off without security hitch, with the GIS technology widely credited as being central to its success.
Using location data to plan for the future
The G7 Summit example stands as a testament to how location intelligence is a crucial tool in planning public safety, but there is also scope to do more in other areas of public service too.
“Most of the data used in the public sector contains location information,” said Sumitra Appan, UK public sector lead at Precisely. “Location data equips organisations with essential context - connecting information on people, places and assets to guide what services are needed and where.”
Examples can include the use of mapping data to support local authorities in the provision of citizen services, or to help the NHS ensure that people in rural areas have access to healthcare. Police forces also rely on contextualised data to help investigate criminal activity and respond to emergencies.
“Location intelligence is a crucial element of any public sector data integrity strategy,” Appan continued. “This provides organisations with a foundation of accurate, consistent, and contextualised data so they can make confident decisions to better serve and protect their citizens.”
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You can view the full presentation by Robert Goldsmith, GIS & mapping manager, Devon and Cornwall Police and Sumitra Appan, UK public sector lead, Precisely at Smart Places & Communities 2022 below: