Kenya Fights Insecurity with Technology



Since men have learned to shoot without missing, a bird called Eneke says in Nigerian Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart novel, he, Eneke the bird, has learned to fly without perching. And so it has come to pass in Kenya where police, like criminals who have gone hi-tech, are also using technology to catch the criminals and tackle mounting insecurity.

Joseph Boinnet, Inspector-General of National Police Service, says investing in modern technology is assisting the police to fight crime.The creation of the Integrated Communication, Command and Control Center (IC3) within the National Police Service, Boinnet notes, has been a game changer in the fight against crime in the areas which have been covered.

“All emergency calls from across the country are received at one central place and field officers are informed for action,” says Boinnet. “For Nairobi and Mombasa, live-streams of whatever is happening is monitored at the centre and the necessary directives given. The system has vehicle number plate identification features and currently it’s being fitted with facial recognition capabilities.”

That the IC3 system “came with digital radio handsets which can be used as phones as well as live video cameras which can be streamed at the centre has not only helped in the reduction of crime in the covered areas,” IG Boinnet says, but “has also made the supervisory function of commanders” easier.

But do police still have any challenges or are they, like Achebe’s Eneke, flying higher than the hunter with the installation of IC3?

“Our only major challenge is when something happens in an area without coverage,” Boinnet says. However, he says, “it is envisaged that the coverage density will be increased. Using the new system, we have managed to recover stolen vehicles and aided in the investigation of several crimes.”

Boinnet’s comments are contained in a speech read on his behalf by Francis Gachira, an Assistant Commissioner of Police who is in charge of IC3 at Police headquarters in Nairobi.The IC3 director delivered the speech during a luncheon hosted by Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (Kara) in partnership with telecommunications service provider, Safaricom, in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Speaking to ArtMatters.Info, Gachira says IC3 provides police officers with radio handsets with 4G capability and that are used to make calls as well as recording videos that are streamed live to Police headquarters. He says a new modern forensic laboratory is being constructed and that it will assist them in providing forensic evidence to the courts during prosecution. He says the CCTV surveillance cameras installed in Nairobi and Mombasa have assisted in the reduction of criminal activities in the areas covered.

Steve Okeyo, Sales Regional Operations Director with Safaricom, says the installation of 1800 CCTV surveillance cameras in Nairobi and Mombasa has boosted the efforts of the police in the maintenance of law and order. For instance, he says, police in Nairobi recovered–within 24 hours–69 motor vehicles that had been reported to be stolen.

Okeyo appeals to Residents Associations to cooperate with Safaricom that is working with the National Police Service, on the installation of communication infrastructure such as Base Transmission Stations and fiber optic cables in their neighbourhoods to enhance high quality service.

Manu Chandaria, an industrialist, urges the public to take keen interest in their own personal security as police cannot be everywhere at the same time. He further appeals to the citizens to work closely with the police by reporting any suspicious activities within their surroundings. He says many crimes go unnoticed within neighborhoods because residents either fail to speak up or report them to the police as they do not care about the welfare of their neighbors.

“We must be our brothers’ keeper,” Chandaria says.

Though Kenya, like other countries around the world faces security challenges, IG Boinnet notes, “Our situation is however compounded by our geographical location of sharing our border with countries which have suffered civil strife for a long time.”

Because of this scenario, Boinnet says, “the illegal firearms that we cannot account for are in thousands. These are the same firearms that exacerbate cattle rustling and senseless killings within the pastoral communities and violent robberies within the cities and build up areas.”

He says things changed for the worse when Kenya “started experiencing terror attacks. We found ourselves disadvantaged in dealing with these threats because . . . we had not invested appropriately in modern technology to fight crime.”

“To address this shortfall,” Boinnet says, “a number of projects were initiated to improve our detection, deterrence, dissemination, and surveillance capabilities.”

Richard Nyaga, the Chair of Kara, had set the ball rolling by observing, “Addressing the current security challenges in Kenya requires a multi-faceted approach, given the fact that the nature of crime is increasingly becoming complex. The use of technology in finding solutions to insecurity cannot therefore be overemphasized.”

Nyaga said Kara welcomed the passing of the Private Security Industry Regulation Bill by Parliament that President Uhuru Kenyatta had subsequently signed into law.

He said the new law would “contribute to the fight against insecurity by streamlining the private security industry and providing a comprehensive collaboration mechanism between the private security actors and relevant state security agencies. We are particularly appreciative of the fact that the Act recognizes the role of various stakeholders on security matters, including residents associations who will have a representative in the proposed Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA).”

The Kara-Safaricom Luncheon in Nairobi is the first of meetings scheduled to be conducted across Kenya, courtesy of the Kara-Safaricom partnership whose aim is to create a platforms on which Kenyans can share ideas on how to tackle security challenges across East Africa’s largest economy. Attending the luncheon on May 31, 2016, were Kara members, security experts, business people, the media and members of the public.

The theme of the luncheon was “What is the place of technological innovation in the fight against insecurity in Kenya?”

By Ogova Ondego


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