Sofia Safe City Project Led to Nationwide Technology Implementation

The Bulgarian Ministry of Interior and Sofia Municipality partnered with Milestone Systems to create an integrated automated security system (IASS) to improve public safety during the 2018 Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The success of the project called ‘Sofia Safe City’ led to its nationwide deployment and has been presented for consideration to other future host cities of the Council of the EU presidency.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) is the biggest and one of the most complex public sector institutions in Bulgaria, responsible for preserving the safety and security of its borders and citizens. Bulgaria being аn external border of the European Union (EU), the Ministry has been facing the challenge to keep Europe and its citizens safe too.

Prior to hosting the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018, the Bulgarian MoI recognized the need to upgrade public security. It was anticipated that the presence of high-level officials could spark protest activity, civil disturbances and potential terrorist attacks. Therefore, the focus was ensuring public safety via detection and prevention of potential security threats. During the Presidency, Bulgaria welcomed over 40,000 delegates making the main meetings venue, the National Palace of Culture (NDK), a key area to secure.

“With the help of Milestone’s VMS open platform, more is done with less,” shared Mladen Petrov, Director of Communication and Information Systems Directorate, Ministry of Interior, Bulgaria.

Doing more with less in complex environments

Upgrading public security required limiting the number of system operators and increasing the efficiency of video feed through analytical capabilities. A major challenge was consolidating various sources of city-wide information into a single system.

“To achieve better results in crime investigation, safety preservation and crime prevention, centralization of sources and coordination of forces was a necessity,” said Maksim Vladimirov, Sr. Expert Communications & Information Systems, Ministry of Interior, Bulgaria.

Sofia Safe City Secures EU Presidency

MoI and Sofia Municipality collaborated with a national partner to develop and implement an Integrated Automated Security System (IASS) linking video surveillance and information exchange systems. This resulted in the digital transformation project Sofia Safe City; a single tool for smart policing, enabling more information-driven decisions to be taken at any given time, and providing better instruments for investigation.

Video streams were consolidated into a Milestone XProtect Corporate video management system (VMS) integrated with internal systems (people/vehicles register, access control) and managing thousands of cameras from nine different vendors (analogue/IP). Milestone provided the platform for proactive monitoring and quick detection of incident locations. This included automated alerting when a stolen vehicle’s license plate recognition (LPR) was detected on camera, people running, unattended luggage, people loitering in main venue and restricted areas, crossing a line, etc.

Agent Vi’s savVi video analytics software was selected to monitor video feeds, enabling real-time alerts and responses, and fast post-event investigation, replacing the time-consuming task of watching live video or manually reviewing recorded video. This digital transformation empowered police with field-preparedness and faster responses in critical situations.

“Milestone provided a unified platform for proactive real-time monitoring and quick detection of incidents among all surveillance centers of Sofia Municipality and Ministry of Interior. This enhanced local law enforcement’s ability to handle events effectively,” commented Mladen Petrov, Director of Communication and Information Systems Directorate, Ministry of Interior, Bulgaria.

“Following the successful implementation of the IASS through the Milestone platform, the CIS-MoI Directorate together with Sofia Municipality and 13 other partners from eight countries applied for the “Smart City Automated Unified Security Platform for Situational Awareness and Predictive Analytics – CiTYCURE”, part of the Horizon 2020 program,” said Mr. Petrov.

The partners are: Amsterdam Municipality (The Netherlands), Center for Research and Technology – Hellas CERTH (Greece), Fraunhofer ICT (Germany), University of Cyprus (Cyprus), Minds & Sparks (Austria), Law and Internet Foundation (Bulgaria), VTT ( Finland), CODIN (Italy), Telelink Business Services (Bulgaria), Helenos Consulting (Greece), Urban Innovation Vienna (Austria), the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (Latvia) and Turku Municipality (Finland).