The Alliance For Change (AFC) believes that criminals, rather than the law-abiding public, should be apprehensive about the presence of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras around Georgetown.
The AFC was responding in its Kaieteur News Sunday column to individuals who say that the CCTV cameras are an invasion of their privacy or may be used for political schemes.
“We are paying attention to the expressions of fear and skepticism about the efficacy of our new Surveillance System with the network of CCTV Cameras installed in the city.”
The AFC, which is a member of the Coalition, noted that some individuals have taken to the media to express their fear that the contractor, Huawei Technologies, could glean sensitive information on Guyanese citizens, from the Surveillance System and make this information available to China.
Some suggested that the facial recognition software would invade their privacy, and that the data bank would be subject to ‘abuse’.
The AFC said, “One newspaper contributor expressed his fear last week that the ‘cluster of cameras in front of PPP’s headquarters’ could be used for political purposes.”
Nevertheless, the party pleaded with the public to be more accepting of the new initiative, since the AFC was told that the cameras are being installed in known crime ‘hot spots’ both in the heart of the city and in peripheral communities.
“Since the whole world has gone digital, and every option to identify, fight and deter crimes is computerised, Guyana went for a Surveillance System complete with a Command Centre to complement the Safe City initiative.”
AFC held out that this high-tech system has many benefits for law enforcement and for citizens, and it is just one component of the National Broadband Expansion Programme, which is funded by a Concessionary Loan of $37.6M from the China EXIM Bank.
According to the AFC, the main deliverables of this nationwide Broadband Expansion project is to allow the Safe City Surveillance System to enable law enforcement operatives to access critical information in real time, and improve response times to emergencies.
According to AFC, “Crime statistics has dropped considerably, but not all the way down. Citizens are still susceptible to major and petty crimes, but the GPF is going global, implementing many initiatives at once.”
It stressed that despite new initiatives, the GPF still seeks to dissuade criminals and would-be criminals from acting and create a city in which citizens, the business community and services providers feel safe.
AFC acknowledged that random crimes will occur in random places, at random times, even under the eyes of the surveillance cameras.
However, the party is waiting on the responsible authority, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, to explain the surveillance system, the policies and standard operating procedures.
According to the AFC, the new technology will also expand the national Information and Communications Technology (ICT) networks into the hinterland to ensure that all citizens have equal access to information, education, healthcare and business.
The AFC column highlighted that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) has been boosted by several new initiatives, including vastly improved community relationships between residents and district police officers.
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