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Full rollout of Jamaica Eye by September

Published:Wednesday | March 6, 2019 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer

The Government’s much-touted Jamaica Eye project should be fully rolled out by September, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has assured.

However, his opposition counterpart, Fitz Jackson, has charged that the surveillance infrastructure has so far been substantially underutilised, especially in the context of the country’s staggering murder rate.

“I would have thought that a parish like St James that had such high levels of murders and shootings, that as part of the whole internal security enhancement arrangement, areas throughout St James would have been identified as critical areas and a prioritised implementation of the programme would immediately be invested in, in those areas,” Jackson said Monday as the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament examined the budgetary allocation made to the security ministry.

Jamaica Eye is part of an islandwide network of camera surveillance systems designed to increase the safety of citizens. The cameras are intended to monitor public spaces across the island and assist the authorities in responding to incidents in the event of an incident, disaster, act of criminality or accident.

“The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) indicated that one of the major contributors to the increase of crime and violence in the country is the decrease in public order and safety starting with the public spaces. The public spaces, we know them – the squares, the markets, the arcades. Those are places where most of the crimes are committed. So my question in that regard, Minister, is why has the Government not sought to invest more in terms of the physical equipment?” Jackson asked.

Chang, in his response, argued that many of the cameras, in Montego Bay, for example, were installed some time ago and were deficient in quality.

He noted, too, that the build-out of the space and connecting it to a central point where the analysis can be done was never taken into consideration.

“The critical element of it is the analytics … so that what we get can be used as evidence, whether the licence plate recognition, facial expression, or other features,” added Chang. “Once we can connect, for example, the cameras in Montego Bay, to the central point which will be at the commissioner’s office, and you have the analytics there to do the analysis, we think it will be an effective crime-fighting tool,” added Chang.

The security minister pointed out that Montego Bay currently has 103 cameras, and a number of the old ones were replaced.

“What they won’t have until maybe June or July is the connection to the central core in the Corporate Area, which is where the major backroom operation and the server they need to do the analysis are. So, if they cross a camera point in Montego Bay, you can actually see them, but it’s not at the level of sophistication to really expand the capacity of the force as we would like,” he said.

Chang revealed that more than 500 closed-circuit television cameras were purchased last financial year, most have which have been installed.