KARACHI: Sindh police have acquired six drones equipped with 25-megapixel high-definition cameras, sources and officials said on Saturday.
The move will strengthen the law enforcement agency’s surveillance system, mainly in those areas where human movement is tough due to dangerous terrain or higher risk to its personnel.
It is for the first time in Pakistan that such technological support for policing has been obtained. The Sindh police have already initiated a project to install around 4,000 high-tech 12-megapixel closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras across Karachi as the existing 2,200 equipment in the city were found ineffective in identifying people and recognising suspects captured in the footage.
“These six drones would be handed over to different ranges of the Sindh police each to Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Shaheed Benazirabad, Larkana and Sukkur,” said a source.
“Each drone is tagged at around Rs1.5 million and a team of some 23 policemen comprising personnel of different ranges has been trained to operate the machines. The drones with cameras have been acquired by only a few countries, including Pakistan, for policing.”
When asked about any example of use of drone cameras for policing in the country, the source said the Sindh police had already 13-megapixel drone cameras, but they could not operate for more than 20 minutes with maximum flying of 1,000 metres and one-kilometre coverage area. “The recently acquired drones, however, can fly for 45 minutes at a stretch up to 2,000 metres and can cover footage and photographs of around 10-kilometre area,” he said.
“Each drone has an advanced GPS technology which can also help the operators on ground track its location and activity even if it’s not in sight. This machine is called third generation of Skycam, which is primarily designed for surveillance and intelligence job.”
When asked about its primary utility, the source said that the idea to acquire such technology emerged after the police, mainly in rural parts of Sindh, found it hard to track terrorists and armed bandits due to terrain of their strongholds and high risk to lives of the personnel when it came to human intelligence and surveillance. “So it would help during police operation to get a real-time idea about those no-go areas before launching an operation or designing a strategy,” he said.
“Similarly, in a city like Karachi it could also be used for air surveillance and monitoring of traffic movement, rallies and public places apart from their use for intelligence for any police operation.”
He said at present the Karachi police controlled around 2,200 CCTV cameras. Of them, 1,200 were owned by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and the remaining 1,000 by the Sindh police and they all were two-megapixel devices, which “are good for monitoring purposes only but they do not record a clear enough picture that can be easily identified”.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2016