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Smartphone app, CCTVs backup for police

Updated September 03, 2013

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LAHORE, Sept 2: The police have identified 700 crime hot pockets in the provincial capital with the help of an ongoing crime mapping project and are considering putting spots under surveillance cameras.

This was discussed at a meeting of divisional SPs at the Qilla Gujjar Singh Investigation Police Headquarters on Monday. The participants were given orientation about the smartphone mapping application and the installation of CCTV cameras.

Officials told Dawn that as the Punjab government had allocated Rs1.3billion for CCTVs, SPs were asked to suggest crime pockets in their remit with the help of smartphone applications. They said rising crime patterns and the absence of proper police patrolling and vigilance had pushed the Lahore police to come up with smartphone mapping to prevent crime with place-based policing rather than going for capturing criminals.

They said CCTV cameras and their linkage with the Central Command and Control System would help check vehicle and motorcycle thefts and street crimes.

Now, 83 android phones are in the use of investigators of as many police stations for record keeping such as latitude and longitude of crime scenes, timings, FIRs, dates of occurrences, descriptions and areas of crimes and photographs of crime scenes. Phones are linked with the Police Record Office & Management Information System (PROMIS).

Deputy Inspector General (investigation) Zulfiqar Hameed told Dawn that mapping (plotting) and spotting of crime pockets would help police make counter strategies like target-oriented patrolling, token-parking and vigilance by officials in plainclothes.

He said the idea was floated by the Lahore University of Management and Sciences’ (LUMS’s) Technology for People’s Initiative which made an android application on testing basis connecting four police stations with android phones to identify cluster-based crimes and maintaining its details.

The DIG said police stations of Kahna, Shahdara, Iqbal Town and Factory Area (which appeared to be most-troubled police stations in terms of crimes) were picked for the project in January 2013.

After the successful results, the Punjab Information Technology Board (PBIT) made a smart phone application for Lahore police and provided 80 android phones to police officers, the DIG said, adding that the PBIT software was installed in Urdu language for the convenience of field police.

He said from August 16, 2013, data on FIRs of police stations had been linked with androids and authorities were planning to install crime maps at all police stations for the force fighting and preventing crimes. He said such maps would be updated every month.

Mr Hameed said with the help of crime clusters identification, police would manage resource allocations, reduce crimes in hot pockets and shift police focus towards capturing criminals.

He said the so far exercise on crime mapping in some police stations suggested that public parks, hospitals and shopping centers were proved to be clusters of multiple crimes, including snatching and theft.

The DIG said the field police would also get proper training in smart phone technology.

He said one official at each police station had been reserved for using android phones and maintaining record of crimes.

TPI LUMS Director Asim Fiaz says the technology is part of interactive measures with the government to resolve its problems.

He said the identification of hot crime spots and clusters with the help of cell phone technology vis-à-vis crime strategies was widely practiced in the USA, the UK, Brazil and Turkey.