Thu | May 23, 2019

Be on your best behaviour, JamaicaEye is watching you

Published:Thursday | March 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Minister of National Security Robert Montague (right) in discussion with Acting Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake (centre) and incoming Commissioner of Police Major General (ret’d) Antony Anderson at the launch of the JamaicaEye initiative yesterday.
Rocky Meade, chief of defence staff, Jamaica Defence Force, speaks at the launch of the JamaicaEye initiative at the National Indoor Sports Complex yesterday.

China has the Dragon Eyes; other nations have their own type of surveillance infrastructure. Now, there is JamaicaEye, an islandwide network of camera surveillance systems designed to increase the safety of all citizens, and it is tipped to be a massive part of the country's crime-fighting mechanism.

The establishment of the JamaicaEye surveillance system is both a game-changer as well as a historic undertaking, declared National Security Minister Robert Montague, while addressing its launch at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston yesterday.

"Today is a game-changer. Today is awesome. As a ministry, we are embarking on a new path and today is testament to that," said Montague.

He asserted that the JamaicaEye surveillance system would prove a worthwhile undertaking and investment aimed at bringing crime and other antisocial activity under control - from murders, robberies, and theft to malicious and dangerous driving on the nation's roads.

JamaicaEye is part of an islandwide network of camera surveillance systems designed to increase the safety of all citizens. These cameras will monitor public spaces across the country and assist the authorities in responding to incidents in the event of an accident, disaster, or act of criminality.

So far, a total of $181 million has been spent on the system to acquire digital cameras.




Montague noted that a recent survey showed that it cost a minimum US$45 million to provide CCTV for Kingston alone, which would require up to 3,000 cameras to be fully effective.

"Having travelled to Trinidad, Colombia, the United States, and Brazil to see what they do with CCTV, and to China to look at the Dragon Eye, we knew that Jamaica could not afford to do what was needed at this time, except through partnerships," Montague disclosed.

"So we decided to come up with a Jamaican solution for a Jamaican problem," explained the national security minister. "We looked at the six towns that have cameras and decided to network them and create enough space to say to members of the public, we will create a space on the platform so that your camera feed can be brought in, and this is the best public-private partnership that could be," he said.

The Ministry of National Security has already installed cameras in public spaces in Kingston and St Andrew; Montego Bay, St James; Mandeville, Manchester; Ocho Rios, St Ann; May Pen, Clarendon; and Negril in Westmoreland.

Security expert Major George Overton endorsed the initiative, calling its establishment a no-brainer, knowing how CCTV systems can deter criminals.

"This initiative is one that must be applauded. And the speed at which it came into operation is a good sign," he stated.