Fight­ing crime with high-tech weapons

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Mark Rick­etts, econ­o­mist, au­thor and lec­turer liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, was chief econ­o­mist of the Van­cou­ver Board of Trade in Canada; deputy chair­man of the Ja­maica Stock Ex­change; and as­sis­tant edi­tor of the ‘Fi­nan­cial Post’, Canada’s largest fi­nan­cial week

GOSH, IF we could just break the cy­cle of crime and vi­o­lence by mak­ing cit­i­zen safety and se­cu­rity our high­est pri­or­ity. A tall or­der, yes, based on statis­tics in­di­cat­ing that mur­der is on the rise.

A pos­si­ble break­through might come as a re­sult of tech­nol­ogy’s im­pact on com­bat­ing crime and vi­o­lence, that is, of course, if we could ever find the will to al­lo­cate suf­fi­cient re­sources to al­low our po­lice to have a new gen­er­a­tion of tech­nolo­gies and tools. Tech­nol­ogy’s im­pact on crime and vi­o­lence must be un­der­stood in the con­text of pri­vate and na­tional se­cu­rity.

In­ter­est­ingly, in re­sponse to my col­umn last week on tech­nol­ogy and crime, a Ja­maican, Dr Michael Leon, liv­ing in Cay­man, made the fol­low­ing ob­ser­va­tion. “Crime here in our three is­lands is very low. The po­lice, The Royal Cay­man Is­lands Po­lice Force, have the lat­est tech­nol­ogy to stop, for ex­am­ple, a mo­torist be­cause of traf­fic in­fringe­ment. All the new-gen­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies and tools you men­tioned in your re­cent col­umn, Cay­man has them and more. The gov­ern­ment here sees to it that its cit­i­zens are pro­tected and that crime, in any form, is ap­proached sci­en­tif­i­cally and nipped in the bud.”


Can you imag­ine Ja­maica hav­ing a sim­i­lar ap­proach and hav­ing, in its arse­nal, the lat­est in tech­nol­ogy, whereby sub­marines, large ocean lin­ers, and even the tini­est go-fast boats used in the guns-for-drugs trade could be vis­i­ble to law en­force­ment, re­gard­less of the time of day or night! Sean Clacken, CEO of Hawk­eye Se­cu­rity.

Lis­ten­ing to Do­minic Allen, CEO, CTRI-IT, a tech­no­log­i­cal re­search and de­vel­op­ment com­pany, ex­plain the op­er­a­tional de­tails is fas­ci­nat­ing and en­light­en­ing.

As he and his com­pany’s Chief Strat­egy Of­fi­cer Matthew Hann say, “In­ter­net Of Things (IOT) is a de­vel­op­ment of the In­ter­net in which ev­ery­day ob­jects have net­work con­nec­tiv­ity, al­low­ing them to send and re­ceive data. This data trans­fer could al­low our na­tion’s se­cu­rity reach to ex­pand into in­ter­na­tional wa­ters by mount­ing IOT de­vices on about 25 buoys in the sea around the is­land.

“These de­vices would com­mu­ni­cate with each other and a cen­tral se­cu­rity base in real time, and would pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on all the oceanic ves­sels, both below and above wa­ter up to 30 kilo­me­tres from land. So, any­body or any­thing com­ing or go­ing we will know, and what is of sig­nal im­por­tance is that we can be a leader in the world in this area.”

Ex­cit­ingly, Allen and Hann give yet another ex­am­ple of gun­shots in some dis­tant neck of the woods be­ing traced and iden­ti­fied. “Be­yond sur­veil­lance out at sea, a sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy can be ap­plied fur­ther in­land to bet­ter pro­tect our peo­ple. De­vices pro­grammed to ‘lis­ten’ to the deci­bel lev­els spe­cific to gun­shots can quickly mea­sure and de­ter­mine what type of weapon was fired and the ex­act John P. Azar, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of KingAlarm, dis­plays sur­veil­lance equip­ment.

lo­ca­tion the shoot­ing took place.”

Allen adds, “This data trans­fer through the In­ter­net will im­prove the way we live, as it fa­cil­i­tates and of­fers us dif­fer­ent op­tions for our se­cu­rity needs. Homes with tele­vi­sions, mi­crowaves and ovens will more and more be man­aged from a pri­vate se­cu­rity stand­point through our mo­bile phones, creating more con­nected cities and even smarter na­tional and per­sonal se­cu­rity.”


Sean Clacken, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Hawk­eye, is ex­cited at the launch of his new Hawk­eye To­tal Con­nect, which al­lows cus­tomers to man­age their se­cu­rity sys­tem and life­style de­vices from their phones. Pro­vid­ing more de­tails, he said, “Users can arm their alarm to re­ceive no­ti­fi­ca­tion when alarm events oc­cur, view cam­eras live at their home, as well as recorded events, and con­trol de­vices such as lights, doors, locks and au­to­mated gates.”

King Alarm’s Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor John Azar is now launch­ing sea wa­ter pa­trol to pro­tect some of his larger clients on the coast. “This ser­vice, along with closed-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion sys­tems (CCTV), video an­a­lyt­ics, and ad­vances in ve­hi­cle track­ing and fleet man­age­ment, have al­lowed us to re­main on the cut­ting edge of tech­nol­ogy,” Azar notes.

Be­yond de­tec­tion, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, and in­ves­ti­ga­tion, tech­nol­ogy

can also be used proac­tively to de­ter crime.

Re­in­forc­ing this, Dou­glas Hal­sall, chair­man of Ad­vanced In­te­grated Sys­tems, cites the ex­am­ple of mo­bile money so­lu­tions, which aid in the preven­tion of money laun­der­ing.

Says Hal­sall: “As our econ­omy be­comes more for­malised, we should put in place a pol­icy that says all re­mit­tances should not be paid out in cash but should first go into an ac­count.

“Quisk, a mo­bile money so­lu­tion we re­cently in­tro­duced and launched in Ja­maica, would be the per­fect part­ner in that plan, es­pe­cially as it can be used in both a smart­phone and what we in Ja­maica re­fer to as ‘bangers’, or phones with ba­sic fea­tures.”

He adds, “Mo­bile money is as good as hav­ing cash, as easy and even more con­ve­nient to spend, and it is au­ditable, which means the in­for­ma­tion can be traced. A sim­i­lar ben­e­fit could also be de­rived in the painful, crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity of prae­dial lar­ceny. This could be done through is­su­ing of elec­tronic re­ceipts that can be eas­ily pre­sented and val­i­dated by the po­lice.”

A con­di­tion for Ja­maica mov­ing ag­gres­sively in adopt­ing the new-gen­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies and tools is that mo­bile money should be driven by ‘ef­fi­ciency bro­kers’ who are spe­cial­ists in their space. This re­quire­ment, Hal­sall feels, is some­times over­looked when con­tracts are be­ing awarded.

“As new tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ists in Ja­maica, what hap­pens to us is that we will sub­mit the most com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy for achiev­ing First-World sta­tus and ef­fi­ciency and the ex­cel­lent tech­nol­o­gists at RFI (Re­quest For In­for­ma­tion) from which an RFP (Re­quest For Pro­posal) is done, in pre­par­ing the ten­der doc­u­ment, might over­look the busi­ness case and the spe­cific en­vi­ron­ment that this so­lu­tion is in­tended to ad­dress.”


As new tech­nol­ogy is adapted, a ma­jor prob­lem for leg­is­la­tors is how they can bridge the gap be­tween the old and the new sur­veil­lance world in terms of ca­pac­ity and ac­count­abil­ity. Clearly, more in­tru­sive sur­veil­lance by the po­lice has its chal­lenges and re­quires a dif­fer­ent ap­proach, that of ac­knowl­edg­ing, for ex­am­ple, that a key as­pect of sur­veil­lance is covert com­mu­ni­ca­tions, cap­tur­ing of data that can in­volve a unique code that is in­cor­po­rated in each mo­bile hand­set.

The pub­lic ou­trage aris­ing over our high crime rate, which at times seems to be at odds with our strong defence of in­di­vid­ual rights, free­dom, and en­ti­tle­ment, could re­sult in a leg­isla­tive tus­sle be­tween what is tech­ni­cally pos­si­ble to fi­nally bring crime and vi­o­lence un­der con­trol and what are the le­gal re­quire­ments for ac­count­abil­ity, pri­vacy and trans­parency in the use of sur­veil­lance tech­niques.

Yes, we have to make some tough choices, but safety and se­cu­rity of our cit­i­zens should be a non-ne­go­tiable op­tion.



Mark Rick­etts

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