Dames: CCTV expansion eyed at $3 million

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.

Over 500 cameras in first phase of expansion

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As part of the Minnis administration’s fight against crime, the government will invest $3 million to expand its closed-circuit television (CCTV) program to over 500 cameras across New Providence within the first quarter of this year, according to Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.

The second phase of the expansion is expected to see over 700 cameras strategically installed.

Dames made the announcement to the media following a contract signing with ShotSpotter (gunshot detection technology) at SLS Baha Mar.

“This is onward growth, but as I said before one of the things that we want to be careful of as a government, and I see this mistake often made — not only in The Bahamas, but throughout — you acquire technology to say you have it and the infrastructure is not in place; the human resource is not there; not been trained to manage [it]; and what you end of doing is, you end up not maximizing the technology,” the minister said.

“We’re looking at how do we use technology, but also create the infrastructure; putting the infrastructure in place prior to the acquisition…”

He continued, “We’re at a level where we want to ensure that The Bahamas is a world leader in policing and police technology and the effective use of the technology.

“And so, we have put in a lot of time; we have done a lot of work to ensure that the foundation is properly made, so that we remain focused on our goal.”

According to the minister, the CCTV program, among other initiatives, is expected to work in tandem with gunshot detection technology.

“If someone fires a gun, Shotspotter picks it up within 60 seconds, and the camera triangulates, so both the camera and the technology will shift toward where that shot is coming from

“That’s the objective. We have spent a considerable amount of time behind closed doors, planning this out…”

The former administration was expected to expand the CCTV program to over 1,000 cameras to “cover essentially all the exit/entry points in Nassau”.

Former Prime Minister Perry Christ made the announcement during his 2016/2017 budget communication in Parliament, but. A timeline nor the cost of the expansion would cost was never provided.

As part of the planned expansion, Christie said the cameras feeds were expected to be integrated with other data sources, including behavioural analytics systems and facial recognition.

In April 2012, the Ingraham administration signed a $4.6 million contract with Lowe’s Security Limited, its U.S. partner Avrio RMS Group and Cayman Company Securities Centres International for 243 cameras to be placed strategically throughout New Providence.

Yesterday, Dames said the CCTV program is being managed in-house.

He said the public can expect to see a fusion between police and civilians, who are vetted and trained, to monitor cameras in the future.

Asked whether there was any consideration of engaging a private company to manage the program, Dames said, “Not at this time because as you know, that is key, so we have to be able to preserve and manage because everything that is being recorded could lead to [being used as] evidence, and we want to be able to ensure that chain of custody is not compromised in any way.

With plans to acquire drone technology for the police force, Dames said it is envisioned that the CCTV program and drone program will be operated and controlled from one centre.

“Although the drones are multi-agency and will be managed by the Defence Force, it is a multi-agency initiative, and so, it means then that in the command centre you will have defence force officers, police officers, customs and immigration, but we have the command centre for that will be under the control of the Defence Force.

A secondary centre will be established at police headquarters on East Street.

Dames added that the government expects to issue a request for proposals for body cameras for police officers next week, following Cabinet discussions.

The police force has tested numerous models since last year.