MARCO alert, sex offenders register to be up and running early next year

MARCO alert, sex offenders register to be up and running early next year
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames speaks to the media outside of Cabinet. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of National Security Marvin Dames has committed to the full rollout of the MARCO alert for missing children, and sexual offender register before the end of March next year.

Dames advised reporters outside the Cabinet office on Tuesday that the government was “basically cleaning up loose ends”.

He explained the remaining link is the testing of software to send mass notifications to any cell phone holder — something that does not currently exist within the remit of local service providers, and will also prove useful for disaster management.

The national security minister noted the software also has geofencing capabilities that allow the government to isolate or ‘shut down’ specific areas like individual islands for mass notifications.

Dames said: “It allows for mass notification anywhere in this country as long as you’re a cell phone owner and the thing is that you can either geofence as well and so this software will also allow for us to use during natural disasters when NEMA needs to use it so we need to send mass notifications out or let’s say you have an event on an island and you just need to notify everyone on that island.

“We can basically geofence or shut that area down and send mass notifications to people in that area. It’s a very important piece of software and we should have it shortly we’re right there.”

The assurance comes more than nine years after the kidnapping and brutal murder of 11-year-old Marco Archer in 2011.

His death prompted changes to the sexual offender register, and a MARCO alert for missing children through amendments to the Sexual Offences Act and Child Protection Act in 2013.

Regulations to enact the register were passed last year.

The Ministry of National Security signed a $3.1 million contract with Bahamian company, Multimedia Technology for the rollout of the missing child alert platform in late August 2019.

On Tuesday, Dames was asked whether the process would be completed before March 2021.

“The sex offenders register, I had an excellent opportunity to look at this last week, to look at the software in relation to that,” he said.

“We’re very excitd we had a demo, I think there another demo this week with the stakeholders because we like to include the stakeholders in there.

He continued: “Marcos alert as you know all of the main boards are up, we are excited about that. We’re waiting for another piece of software for the service providers that will allow for mass notifications to any cell phone holder.

“Unfortunately that does not exist within any of the service providers now, be it BTC or Aliv, or any of those and so we’re working. Now we had an RFP out on that and the RFP would have returned and so as soon as we get that software we would be able to kinda close that link.

Dames added: “As far as the registry, the regulations are all in place. We should be running a test early in the new year in respect to the registry. We have everything up and set to go with that.”