Location intelligence data and GIS used to secure G7 Summit (Image Credit: Andrew Neel on Unsplash)Precisely has revealed that Devon and Cornwall Police used its GIS software and location intelligence data to secure the 2021 G7 Summit. Along with third-party 3D visualisation software, it created a digital twin of the locations and routes that were used during the event. It enabled the police to carry out contingency planning with an accuracy on the ground of just five millimetres.

Robert Goldsmith, GIS and mapping manager, Devon and Cornwall Police (Image Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police)
Robert Goldsmith, GIS and mapping manager, Devon and Cornwall Police

Robert Goldsmith, GIS and mapping manager, Devon and Cornwall Police, said, “We had two major hurdles we had to cross during the planning phase for the G7 Summit.

“The first challenge was managing the sheer volume of security protocols needed for such a high-profile event, particularly given that the Summit was hosted in two locations. This meant that safety measures were required for different venues, as well as for each of the world leaders, as they travelled back and forth.

“The second was giving visibility to our security partners around the world, especially as the pandemic limited the ability for teams to travel to the site in the run-up to the event.”

The problem Devon and Cornwall police faced

As with any major incident planning, there is a demand for the most accurate data possible for planning and control. In major cities, that data is readily available from a number of different sources and is often supplemented by the use of CCTV systems.

Devon and Cornwall Police faced a different problem. They were looking at two locations and rural routes that were not well covered by CCTV. They also had limited historic data flows in terms of traffic around the areas.

That lack of data meant that the police force needed to rethink how it would model the situation on the ground. Its solution was to build a digital twin of both locations and the routes to be used. That digital twin could not just be a 2D representation of the ground as would be achieved from existing mapping solutions.

A 3D model that could be rotated and manipulated to see the area under protection from different perspectives was key. Security teams needed to know where the routes and locations could be overlooked from. They also needed to establish their own lines of sight for communications and for the placement of react teams in case there was an incident. Additionally, they also needed to be able to identify alternative safe routes should an incident occur.

How did they deal with it?

Devon and Cornwall Police are already users of MapInfo Pro. They began by creating 2D maps of the areas they were interested in. They then used location intelligence to add points of interest. Those points of interest included location on the ground, such as bus stops, bridges and other data. That was supplemented by data on where officers were to be located. They also added details on the planned locations of other security personnel so that they had an accurate map of who, what and where.

Other datasets were also included that allowed them to see the impact of any traffic measures, such as road closures and diversion. This is data that both the police and the local councils share. The force also used other external data sets but has not disclosed what they were. Some may have well come from utility companies who often have highly accurate data on where their assets are located and connected. Those 2D models were used as the base for building the 3D visualisations.

The force says it further supplemented the data through video footage shot across 140,000 sq metres of the Summit venues. It also used drones to capture the most accurate data of the areas, which would have revealed any changes to the landscape or route that occurred after the last update to GIS and location intelligence software.

According to the press release, the result was “a hyper-accurate virtual representation, or digital twin, of the entire area. This enabled Devon and Cornwall Police and their partners, to anticipate security issues and create contingency plans using virtual-reality headsets to remotely access locations during the planning phase. This removed the need to have more individuals on the ground than necessary in the run-up to the event, while still enabling highly accurate contingency planning to take place.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

Security risks from terrorism and protests are a major concern at any major event. In cities, Gold Commanders have access to a vast range of data and tools. In more rural areas, that data is sparse, if available at all. The use of GIS and location intelligence software plus additional data sets to build such an accurate model shows the value of those tools and data sets. The ability to mix that with drone footage and video to build 3D visualisations has far-reaching implications.

The most obvious benefits here are for police and security forces that need to secure an area. Here it was used to protect the G7 Summit, but it could equally be used to protect critical national infrastructure. Other emergency services responding to a major incident could also benefit from this type of modelling. However, that would assume that the initial base modelling has already been done and all they have to do is quickly supplement with some drone footage.

Outside of emergency and security services, securing critical national infrastructure from attack is another use case. It is also possible to see how councils could use this for a variety of purposes, from planning to emergency response. Another use case is the metaverse, as people look to build out highly realistic models of locations for tourism and even for use in movies and games.

However, there are caveats to all of this. We don’t know how much this cost, how many people were involved and how long it took. Those are things that need to be resolved before we see wider use of this technology.


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