“Guyanese like fuh walk with cash. They don’t like to walk with plastic or cheques. That is why the opportunity is there. Some of them are very careless, so they get robbed.”
That is the opinion of Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, on the reality of crime and violence in Georgetown. The Minister was, at the time, speaking on a radio interview about the high rate of crime in Georgetown.
More than half of all recorded cases of crime occur in the City of Georgetown, according to the Minister. According to the data from the Bureau of Statistics, the 2012 census gathered that the City accounts for about 27 percent of the total population of the country. Against that statistics, the crime rate in Georgetown is calculated to be double the national average.
Minister Ramjattan said that, because it is a commercial area, there is a lot more wealth circulating in the City. That is why the Government had opted for cameras to be placed throughout the City.
“We have set up now a smart city project through a very big company out of China, called Huawei. They’ve produced some fantastic cameras, almost 360 degrees around the lantern posts when you put the cameras there, you can see almost right around the place, even up in the air and all. That is how sophisticated they are.”
The high-tech system can perform face and [car] licence recognition. Several police vehicles are also equipped with cameras and radios that can be traced and accessed at any time. From the security control room, the operators have access to all the data from cameras across the city. They can pull these images up on a big screen as they keep watch.
What is more important is that the control room is also connected with all the stations in Georgetown, making the system effective.
“We now have to get this command centre. We are using a temporary place whilst the command centre is being built.”
The current command centre is at the National Database Centre in Liliendaal.
“You see so high resolution, you can figure out if a car jumped a red light and all of that,” the Minister said, explaining the technology.
Recently, concerns had been raised about whether the project is in breach of privacy laws.
In response to this, Ramjattan said “This is the problem. We have to make a balance between security and privacy.”
He added, “If you want to catch criminals, you’ll have to have some bit of privacy being encroached upon.”
“In London today, you walk the streets of London, some camera is on you. Even if you dash across to another street, the camera has a certain feature about it; you’re running, the camera follows you literally. That is what we’re bringing to Guyana.”
He said that the Smart City System is a component of the $32M National Broadband Project sponsored by the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, through a loan from China.
Ramjattan said that, with oil and natural gas revenues in the future, he hopes that this project could be extended to Linden, Skeldon, Lethem and other commercial districts.
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