E-bus and Security Centre officially launched
The E-bus and Security Operation Centre at the Questelles Police Station, which will monitor closed circuit cameras installed around the country, was officially opened on Tuesday, July 21.
The Centre is part of the ‘Intelligent Bus Management and Monitoring System Project’ being jointly implemented by the Republic of China (Taiwan) and St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
Objectives of the project include establishing an intelligent video surveillance system, and strengthening the functions of bus management institutions.
The budget for the project is US $2.4 million, with the Republic of China (Taiwan) contributing US $1.67 million and the SVG Government, US$732,000.
Ambassador at the Republic of China (Taiwan) to SVG, Calvin Ho said that the opening of the e-bus and security operation centre is a very important milestone in the development of smart cities in SVG. He said that this project is the third ICT bilateral cooperation project between the countries since 2011.
However, in this case, “The idea for this project is actually try to apply the ICT to not only benefit to Government’s operation but also benefit to the general public.”
At present, 164 cameras have been installed, but by the end of the year, that number should increase to 200 when the installation of cameras on the Windward side of St Vincent is complete.
“Today I’m very proud to join Prime Minister Gonsalves and Minister Gonsalves and all of you to launch the e-bus and security operation centre, and this project reflects our continuous efforts to work with our diplomatic allies,” the Ambassador ended.
The Minister of Information Technology and Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, in delivering his remarks, noted that they have reached the point in the project wherein the operation centre is fully operational as a surveillance centre.
“When the entire project is completed this same surveillance centre here will be operational in the e-bus capacity,” he said.
The future phase is geared towards rationalizing the public transport system, and the Minister mentioned that it will involve placing small transmitting devices in 200 buses (to begin with), and the building of “state of the art” bus stops.
However, presently, the Minister informed, “we have installed in St Vincent and the Grenadines, at the moment, the beginnings of a hi-tech security system that can rival that of any other country in the world, that’s a fact.”
Eighty-five cameras have been installed in Kingstown, Gonsalves said, while 26 have been installed along the Leeward coast, and 44 on the Windward coast.
The camera locations were decided by the Commissioner of Police (COP) Colin John, the police team, and consultants from Taiwan. They compiled “a list of potential hot spots, important gathering spaces, areas that are not easily subject to surveillance by the police.”
According to the Minister, the cameras in the Kingstown area capture most of the streets, intersections, and back alleys around the town.
“We’ve installed eight at Argyle International Airport (AIA), and we’ve installed a data gathering camera, car counting camera which is separate and apart from the ones that we’ve installed so far,” he explained, adding that the total number of cameras currently fitted amounts to 164.
The cameras are said to be weather resistant, and high definition, while those at AIA have facial recognition.
The Security Operation Centre will be operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week by trained police officers.
COP John said that the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force now has an important tool in their crime fighting arsenal.
There will be several advantages to this technology, he said, the first of which is the deterrence of crime which will be achieved by the very presence of the security cameras.
“It provides a monitoring mechanism for police officers, so we can divert our resources to ‘hot spots’ or areas where activities are taking place, for instance at Carnival time or time when there are events of mass gathering,” John listed.
He added that the cameras would help with the collection of cogent evidence which will assist with securing convictions.
This is the latest in a series of occasions on which the RSVGPF has benefited from the support of the Republic of China(Taiwan), John said.
“As Commissioner of Police I can assure you that this piece of tool would be effectively utilized so that we the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, and the police can make sure that St Vincent and the Grenadines is a safer place as a result of this initiative,” he ended.