Safer Cities: How Nigeria Is Building a Smart City Surveillance System
Nigeria is a country that has been plagued with violence and crime, making it one of the most dangerous places to live in Africa. In an effort to combat this problem, Nigeria's government is currently constructing a smart city surveillance system which will include facial recognition technology, license plate scanners and drones.
The first part of the project centers around creating a database of criminals so that law enforcement can identify suspects on sight. This database will be built from pictures taken during police stops as well as through CCTV cameras installed throughout the cities. The second component includes using license plate scanners at intersections to track cars entering or leaving specific areas such as banks or malls where robberies are known to take place frequently.
Section 1: The Problem
Nigeria has one of the highest crime rates in the world, making the nation dangerous to reside in. According to the latest UN report on Violent Crime in the World, Nigeria is the country with the second highest rate of robbery in the world, followed by Iraq and the United States of America. Despite that, the country continues to experience major flooding and other natural disasters, leaving many people homeless. Additionally, environmental pollution and the lack of proper sanitation are major issues in Nigeria, creating many health risks for residents. This is partly the reason why the average life expectancy of Nigeria is 47.9 years.
The security situation in Nigeria has affected the living conditions of the average Nigerian.
How Nigeria is Building a Smart City Surveillance System
As part of their smart city surveillance plan, Nigeria's government will invest approximately $150 million into the project. The idea for this is to not only combat crime, but also educate people on the importance of not committing crimes in the first place. Nigeria is no stranger to crime. In fact, the country has had approximately 200 violent crimes in the last 30 days, according to BBC.
With technology being a priority for the city, surveillance systems will also help provide better education for people on road safety. The government will build sensors that will detect jay walkers and issue tickets accordingly. The goal is to eliminate bad driving by reducing road accidents, especially when it comes to child passengers in vehicles.
Why Nigeria is Building a Smart City Surveillance System
The country is reportedly losing approximately $38 billion dollars a year to violent crime. With this in mind, the government plans to save more than $8 billion a year by using advanced technology. The first half of this project is expected to be completed by May 2018. Once completed, the system will be used by law enforcement agencies throughout the entire country. The money that is saved will also help to establish a defense force, which the government hopes will help secure the country against Boko Haram militants.
Technology and the Military
President Muhammadu Buhari announced the establishment of the Defense Facilities Artillery Reconnaissance Department and stated, "It is a department dedicated to reconnaissance in the area of artillery.
The Solutions from the Project
The Police and Citizens get real-time notifications of activities in their area so they can focus on actual crime and not act suspicious because they are waiting for the phone to ring.
Police Officers will have the ability to quickly scan suspects with the digital cameras, eliminating the need to pull over a vehicle.
Facial recognition technology will allow police officers to easily identify suspects on the spot, as well as identify wanted criminals on the phone database.
According to a paper titled "Smart City Surveillance in Nigeria: A Case Study of Onitsha" by the NGO Eko Foundation, the police and citizens will benefit from this system the most. Citizens will have the ability to call the police in order to report crimes in progress.
Although we can only speculate on what will happen to the faces that will be in the database, it's clear that this system has the potential to be one of the most effective at combating crime in the country. After all, the real goal of any surveillance system is not to collect data but to keep people safe.
It remains to be seen whether or not the implementation of the system will be effective in that regard, and until we see more specifics on how this project will be handled, it's difficult to speculate. However, it's encouraging to see that crime is being taken seriously and that measures are being taken to protect people from violent criminals.
We will continue to monitor this initiative and continue to report back on any developments.