Stealing a vehicle in Nairobi and getting away with it is now more difficult, thanks to surveillance cameras mounted on the streets.
Between September and December last year, 69 vehicles stolen by criminals during robberies and carjackings within the city were recovered in less than 24 hours.
Police attributed the recovery to the new system, which uses number plate recognition technology to identify stolen vehicles.
Better results are expected once the National Secure Communication Network and Surveillance System is fully functional.
According to a State House document prepared by security officials, the quick recovery of the vehicles was “largely on account of the use of the number plate recognition technology and the use of cameras, and the speed with which officers respond to crime”.
The network has 1,466 cameras in Nairobi and an additional 344 in Mombasa. The network is expected to extend to other areas of the country.
“It’s not exactly where we want to be, but it demonstrates that technology is a big catalyst to improving service delivery as far as security is concerned,” says the document.
Besides checking motor vehicle theft, the system is aimed at curbing other serious crimes such as robberies, burglaries and terrorism.
The network of surveillance cameras is connected to monitors that are watched round the clock at the police headquarters.
Besides the cameras, police officers have been given modern hand-held gadgets to replace the archaic walkie talkies.
The digital devices are small compared to the bulky walkie talkies, and are capable of supporting 3,000 interactive connections at any given time.
“You then have 7,600 devices in the hands of officers, 600 in vehicles for response units and 1,000 fixed devices. Some 10,000 officers have been trained on this new technology,” says the document.
It adds: “The Inspector- General is working on a new command structure for that particular facility to ensure we rely more and more on technology for purposes of improving services to the people from a security point of view.”
County police commands have been connected to the digital communication network.
“The counties now have a new radio communications network, a digital network. All the analogue network has been retired. Security personnel are using a smart device. They have at any given time 3,000 connections going on and these are officers who have now been empowered,” says the report.
One in every four officers in Nairobi and Mombasa has the digital device that is considered key in reducing the time to respond to a crime incident.
“It’s a lot more precise, a lot more efficient, and you can see the result in terms of the security environment.”