Police in Dhaka are set to overhaul the city’s system of closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance by linking 16,000 new cameras to a police database and equipping some with a facial recognition capability.
The cameras, to be installed under the Development of Dhaka City Digital Monitoring project, will be able to quickly identify criminals and send pictures to the central command and nearby police stations.
Officers from the concerned police station will then move in to arrest the criminal.
Additional Inspector General (development) Gazi Mozammel Haque of Police Headquarters said such technologies are being used worldwide to tackle street crimes such as mugging and extortion, which are making residents of the capital feel increasingly insecure.
“Modern cities are under CCTV surveillance which is monitored from a central command centre in cities, making it possible for police to respond quickly,” he said.
Under the current system, however, many of Dhaka’s street-level criminals are finding it all too easy to evade justice.
“It becomes difficult for police to identify the criminals (and) in many cases, it is impossible,” the AIG said.
Under the new scheme, a total of 16,000 surveillance cameras will be installed across the city and connected to the Crime Data Management System database.
Four types of camera will be used: bullet, long-range, drone, and checkpoint cameras.
“One of these four kinds will work as a face detector,” Mozammel said. “Whenever the camera captures a wanted criminal it will alert the central command, which will make it possible for us to quickly arrest the person. We will be notified whenever anything happens.”
The AIG said his officers will even be able to mark a specific place on the camera to identify certain suspects. “The cameras will make surveillance much easier. We will get an alert whenever the blacklisted person arrives at the spot,” he said.
Mozammel said the new cameras would significantly reduce the time taken to wade through reels of CCTV footage whenever a car is involved in an accident or is used in crimes.
“The cameras will identify the specific vehicle within a few seconds. This will make collecting information by analyzing video footage easy,” he said.
The cameras could also prevent a repeat of the 2015 Pohela Boishakh sexual assaults on Dhaka University campus, when dozens of youths harassed around 20 women for over an hour at the Suhrawardy Udyan gate.
“It took us three months to identify the correct footage, but had the cameras we plan to install been in operation, it would have taken merely five minutes,” Mozammel said.
“It will (also) be possible to know if the perpetrators were involved in other crimes in the past.”
Sources say the police administration began planning the “Development of Dhaka City Digital Monitoring System” project in 2015.
As part of the process, an international tender was floated for verifying the feasibility of the plan. A Chinese company selected from 17 applicants from as many countries submitted a report after nearly a year of survey.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune