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Crime and technology: Are Ugandans aiming 'above' the target?

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Added 21st June 2018 04:02 PM

We need to get back to basics and do this all over again - in a better, smarter way.

Crime and technology: Are Ugandans aiming 'above' the target?

We need to get back to basics and do this all over again - in a better, smarter way.


By Emmanuel Cliff Muganhwa

Have you noticed that criminals today are more tech savvy than the security agencies that are supposed to be monitoring them?

Take the example of the people that kidnapped and killed Susan Magara. They apparently used a new phone and SIM card every single time they called her relatives for ransom money.

Even when they wanted to pass on a message, it was a voice recording done on phone and sent over our ‘heavily regulated' SIM CARDS! Yes, the same ones UCC and NIRA told us are fully registered and monitored.

We need to get back to basics and do this all over again - in a better, smarter way.
Government either switches off all the sim cards and registers them again or admits that was a failed project and a loss. People are still being conned using ‘registered' phone numbers in a variety of schemes, and complaints go unattended to when they ask the telecom companies to investigate (there is mostly one company whose cards are used, you know yourself).

The story of National ID's will never end, I have seen many with half scanned fingerprints, so even if you pulled prints from a crime scene you will never catch them using biometrics, and this was one of the aims for the whole project.

A lot has been said about installation of cameras, but I dare you to find one Honorable MP (they are the talkers) and ask him for a basic implementation plan if he were put in charge of the project. Do they really know what goes into cameras just beyond their purchase?

I will make it easy for my MP and ask him to submit to Madam Speaker that we buy those cameras fitted with facial recognition capability and night vision. This basically means all law breakers will have their pictures taken and loaded into the system so that whenever a camera picks one out, an alert is raised on the system.

Basically if you are on the police watch list and a camera picks you out using your facial features, they get a red flag immediately and call the nearest police post to pick you up. This type of camera averagely costs about 7 Million Uganda shillings each, and you need about 2000 of those in Kampala, just to cover the basic routes (we have many panyas); so that will cost you a ‘paltry' sh14b.

There are other ‘smaller details' like the expensive storage space for the recorded videos, a command center with servers and a whole bevy of staff to watch in real time.

All the above is easy and cheap, until you learn that all the cities that have cameras working have a good dedicated networked fiber backbone committed strictly to that, for security reasons. Last I checked we had failed to install any serious fiber ring around Uganda, let alone Kampala. You can watch this video and gauge our readiness (

Cameras may help you capture the walking criminals, what about the car and boda riding criminals?

Well, there is a system called ANPR- Automatic Number Plate Recognition system. This system collects data about vehicles using their number plates and helps police easily monitor movement of vehicles, and boda bodas in our case. This one also costs a few Million Dollars to procure, install and run. But then again, it works only with properly registered plates, and last I checked whoever attempted to register boda bodas was almost lynched.

There is however a cheaper option we can start with.

Do you know that we have over 3 million cameras in Uganda? Yes, we do!

Almost every smart phone now ships with a camera, regardless of quality.
So, Instead of using WhatsApp to share porn videos and rumors about so and so, how about government encouraged better usage of WhatsApp instead of taxing it?

For example, I am aware that wanainchi of some place in Seeta have a WhatsApp group that works as their neighborhood watch with the DPC and OC on it. According to Gerald (second name withheld) they have managed to report crimes and get help immediately, only because they are on the same group as the police personnel.

If only the people in Kawanda knew this.

It even gets better. Get any skilled 3rd year student from the faculty of IT in Makerere, give them 5,000 dollars to develop for police a mobile application that will not require one to load internet bundles to send video and audio content to police.

Telecom companies can use their CSR docket to whitelist such an application that will be used to record and report issues in real time, so the person sending content will not incur any cost. IT WILL BE FREE TO USE (NOT abuse). The only thing to worry about then will be storage.

The mobile application can be built with GPS geo-locators so that with easy mapping the security organs can easily tell the location of the person reporting and call the nearest personnel.

That will be much better than encouraging youths to mold useless steel ‘choppers' that only fly in their imaginations, and applauding them as inventors.

Still think we cannot use what we already have to help ourselves? I guess you are aiming way above your reach.

The writer is an IT expert


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