Wednesday 19 September, 2018

$3 billion for island-wide CCTV system, says Montague

Robert Montague

Robert Montague

The Government is set to implement phase one of the national closed circuit television (CCTV) system called ‘JamaicaEye’, the implementation of which is considered urgent, particularly because of the runaway murder rate locally.

However, the administration is pointing out that it will take a whopping $3 billion over the next two years for a full roll out of the system.

In a statement on Friday, National Security Minister, Robert Montague, said the implementation of phase one of the CCTV is expected to take place in February, as the ministry now awaits Cabinet approval for the additional funds.

The minister’s disclosure comes in light of the increase in shooting and murders island-wide.

The statement said JamaicaEye will allow citizens and business owners with cameras pointing in the public space to voluntarily provide their camera feed to a restricted team of vetted security professionals at two monitoring centres.

The initial launch of the programme will utilise the feeds of 200 cameras owned by the Government and an expected 300 through public-private partnership in the initial phase. The video feeds will be passed through a suite of video analytics.

Under the programme, citizens and businesses with CCTV systems will register via a website.

According to the statement, the JamaicaEye project is the brainchild of Minister Montague as part of the five pillar crime reduction strategy he presented in 2016. It said the system was further developed and refined after numerous stakeholder consultations with public and private stakeholder groups in November last year, including the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and several stakeholders in Kingston and St Andrew.

Minister Montague, in an appeal for more public-private partnerships to assist with the building out of the CCTV network, said:

"The Ministry is going on an aggressive campaign to get private camera feeds, as this will be a major step forward for the country. Jamaica is one of the few countries that has brought the use of private cameras to function in this capacity. This is how each Jamaican with a CCTV system can help in the fight against crime. We have to take this approach because otherwise the cost would be too expensive for the Government alone. To outfit Kingston alone would have cost the Government over one billion Jamaican dollars."

The national CCTV system will monitor public spaces island-wide, and assist the authorities in providing a suitable response in the event of an incident, disaster or act of criminality. Government-owned CCTV systems have already been installed in several major towns across the island.

Minister Montague noted that the camera systems in Montego Bay will be upgraded, and additional cameras have been ordered to boost security in that part of the island, where the parish of St James racked up a whopping 335 murders in 2017.