Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Government using GIS technology to fight crime

Published:Wednesday | October 11, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right), in discussion with Roshaun Clarke (left), marketing cooordinator, Spatial Innovation, and his father Silburn Clarke president Spatial Innovation at the Geographic Information System User Conference held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, yesterday.

The Government now has another crime-fighting tool in its arsenal with the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which is already in use in Mt Salem, St James, being able to map criminal hot spots, among myriad other applications.

The system was adopted in the plan to launch zones of special operations, the first of which is now in force in Mt Salem. Even though there have been some errors, according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, it was a good learning experience, while chalking up the potential benefits of the system in combating crime in Jamaica.

"And so you would have heard (of) some errors. But that was a very good learning exercise and experience for the Government because what it did was to reinforce the need for an integrated approach to the use of GIS information," the Prime Minister said, in addressing the inaugural Jamaica GIS User Conference at the Pegasus hotel yesterday.

Mt Salem was said to be home to 12 major gangs and had seen 54 murders in the community since the start of the year up to September 1. That figure was later challenged, with the Holness administration later acknowledging the error at a subsequent press conference.

"It is not that we didn't have the information, but, because it is dispersed among several agencies, amid the challenge that information that the national security ministry and the police would need for crime fighting, does not all reside in the ministry or with the police," said Holness in his attempt to explain the error.

"What we realise is that aspects of the technology are deployed in various arms of Government but which needs to be brought under one seamless, accessible, standardised database," he said.

Current trends in the incidence of crime and violence, as well as the resulting levels of insecurity and fear of crime, have been identified as major contributors to the low levels of economic growth and threats to the achievement of inclusive growth, according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

He said that the use of advance spatial analytic tools and advance imaging technologies enables the continuous flow of data between intelligence, law-enforcement agencies and security companies in pre- real-time and post-operations, which is a prerequisite in the modern fight against crime.

"We are enhancing the use of GIS in crime analysis by now including mapped locations or reported criminal offences from which heat maps can be created to show hot spots of criminal activities," said Holness.

"This allows us more informed and systematic interventions in line with the approach to address the levels of crime and violence, including a robust legislative framework."

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com