Adopting technology to tackle crimes

Karachi Safe City project will eliminate 90% of crimes, help businesses flourish

GOHAR ALI KHAN April 08, 2024


The implementation of the five-phase fully fledged Karachi Safe City (KSC) project worth Rs36 billion could tackle 90% of crimes in the port city as the adoption of technology is unavoidable for eliminating street crimes while making the city safe for businesses and investments, according to top officials and business leaders.

The KSC project is a far more modern, bigger project than both Islamabad Safe City and Lahore Safe City projects.

The Sindh government took almost eight years to adopt it as its Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah approved funding of around Rs5.6 billion last month to launch first phase of the project in the red zone and airport corridor on a government-to-government basis between the Sindh Police and the National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) under the Ministry of Defence Production.

Sindh Safe Cities Authority (SSCA) Director General Asif Aijaz Shaikh and NRTC Managing Director Brigadier Asim Ishaque signed the agreement.

For better fund management, the project has been divided into five phases and it will be executed on a turnkey basis. Each phase is not dependent on any other phase. Phase-wise details cover respective districts.

The KSC project is aimed at installing 12,000 cameras in all five phases across 2,400 sites. This extensive surveillance network will generate vast amounts of data, facilitating quick analysis and enhancing the efficiency of law enforcement operations.

The project’s digital forensics component will further aid in the investigation and analysis of incidents while establishing a robust crime prevention system.

“The new system is designed with scalability. By harnessing digital technology and AI-based analytics, the KSC project is set to revolutionise public safety and security management. The initiative’s success is bolstered by the expertise of SI Global Solutions. Through this project, Karachi is poised to become a model of how technology can be leveraged to create safer urban environments,” Noman Said, eminent international safe cities consultant, said.

Enhancing urban security is to integrate state-of-the-art AI-based surveillance technology to create a secure environment. This involves deploying sophisticated surveillance tools that provide real-time data to improve situational awareness and emergency service delivery.

The KSC project embodies this vision through utilising facial recognition (FR), automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) among other technologies. These will be linked to advanced command and control centres, enhancing public safety through crime prevention and efficient emergency response.

The project will deploy FR and ANPR to identify individuals and vehicles, aiding in crime prevention; tap ITS to monitor and manage traffic, reducing congestion and violations; leverage digital surveillance to enable predictive policing, helping law enforcement to preempt and address potential threats.

Read Street crime epidemic

SSCA DG Asif Aijaz Shaikh said the five-phase KSC project was worth approximately Rs36 billion. The Sindh government is providing funds, the NRTC will execute it and Sindh Police under the SSCA will implement it.

He said entire Karachi had been surveyed and studied in terms of making it safe and secure. Local and security experts have studied and designed it to make it an impeccable project, while keeping the feed/data of cameras intact. Adopting technology can help combat and eliminate crimes nowadays.

After full-fledged execution of the first phase, the police will be able to reduce 50% of crimes in the entire port city. Sharea Faisal is important when a crime is committed. Once the entire project is completed, it will be able to mitigate 90% of crimes. The SSCA will expand the project to Sukkur, Hyderabad and other cities soon.

“Like the 15 police service, we have set up response teams of the project, headed by the Sindh inspector general of police (IGP). Our teams will also be helped by the 15 service, relevant police stations, Rangers and other law enforcement agencies to control crime.”

The SSCA will initially have around 1,000 staff, 110 vehicles, 200 motorbikes and six drones. A plot spread over 5,000 square yards has been allocated for the SSCA complex on Sharea Faisal near Saddar police station, where nine floors with a two-floor basement will be constructed within two years.

Three floors – second, third and fourth – have been selected for installing the largest screen of 50 by 80 feet in the country, he said.

The foundation of the SSCA complex will be laid in the middle of May and till then some poles will be erected with cameras. Until a proper building is built, the IGP has temporarily given one floor of the Command and Control Centre at the Central Police Office (CPO) where screens will be installed and solutions will be provided with the help of feed provided by the cameras. Once the complex is constructed, the equipment-cum-technology will be shifted there.

The first phase of the KSC project includes installation of 1,300 cameras including 1,043 new cameras and 257 upgraded cameras, and 300 poles. Till September-October, all cameras will be installed.

The KSC project consists of high-resolution cameras with top-notch capability of up to 12 megapixels, identifying suspicious activities including over-speeding of vehicles and giving two kinds of alerts once it detects weapons such as gun, knife, etc – safe alert for weapons carried by the police and red alert for weapons with other people.

The first phase will take 12 months and construction of the complex will take two years. Within a month, work will be visible. The NRTC will take one month for mobilisation as it has placed orders for cameras and equipment.

Once phase-II is approved, the ground work will kick off after two months of work on phase-I and so on. All the five phases will be completed within two and a half years, if inflation and the US dollar fluctuation do not hit the project cost and work is carried out expeditiously.

Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) Director and Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC)’s former chief Ahmed Chinoy remarked that a successful implementation of the KSC project could bring about a revolution in Karachi as e-policing was the only solution to curbing the rising street crimes.

He called for the creation of more response units to apprehend the thugs forthwith. If crimes are eradicated, Karachi will be just like a piece of heaven for businesses as the country collects 67% of revenue from the city despite crimes.

“Once a criminal activity is detected, the teams must swing into action to nab criminals within minutes. This will ensure success of the system. The government must set a target to reduce the crime rate immediately and adopt a three-pronged approach – honest people, easy process and advanced technology,” industrialist and economic analyst Riazuddin said.

The writer is a staff correspondent

Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2024.

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