Crime Control through Cameras

27 Dec 2016


LAHORE – Chinese engineers, nowadays, are seen fixing high-tech cameras on poles alongside roads in Lahore as part of the Punjab Safe City Authority project.

Hundreds of CCTV cameras are installed on important roads, public places, key installations, and crime hot-spots. Authorities plan fitting more than 10,000 cameras at 2000 different locations to secure people and properties in Lahore. But, this project is still at its initial stage because only less than 700 cameras are installed yet.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif believes that big cities could be secured under the Punjab Safe City Project by employing state-of-the-art technology. The CM inaugurated the project in Lahore in October and termed it as ‘Asia’s biggest safe city project’. He further said the project is four times larger than Islamabad Safe City project yet its only 75% of the cost of capital command centre in Islamabad.

This year in June, the Authority Management mentioned that the mega project would be completed in Lahore by June 2017. In her budget speech, Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Pasha stated that the project of comprehensive surveillance system would be completed in Lahore by June 2017 and in other five big cities of the province by Dec 2017.

“A high-tech surveillance system with an estimated cost of Rs13 billion has been launched in Lahore in the first phase,” claimed Dr Pasha, adding that it would be completed by June 2017. “This project will be completed in other five big cities By December 2017,” she said while addressing provincial assembly.

During the current fiscal year, the government proposed Rs145 billion for under the head of law and order. The planned spending has been jacked up from last year’s Rs94 billion. The Punjab Safe City project will get Rs44 billion during the years to come.

Now authorities say this project will be extended to six big cities of the province including Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, and Bahawalpur in a different phases. Under this project, the government is planning strict surveillance of miscreants and offenders by using modern tools including CCTV cameras. The scheme will also help police eliminate street crimes from the society.

Lahore has been chosen in the first phase due to its importance as provincial capital. The police response and surveillance is comparatively better in the provincial metropolis as compared to other big cities after the installation of this system.

Lahore DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf says the safe city project will definitely help police in crime prevention and deterrence in big cities. “This is a complete and comprehensive network of communications. This will improve our working in terms of police response to crime victims. The crime rate will further decrease in Lahore once the project will be launched fully.”

At the main nerve-center, also called integrated command, control, and communication centre, different spots of the city are on display on large-size screens. “Our officers can click on any point and enlarge the picture and they can see what is happening there,” the DIG explained to The Nation.

The basic idea is to enable the law enforcement agency to monitor all roads and streets in Lahore from a centralised system, said the DIG (Operations). “Every incident from street fighting to processions and violation of traffic rules to armed robberies would be saved in the surveillance cameras. This exercise will help cut down the crime rate in Lahore.”

The first test-phase, the project was made functional during Muharram in Lahore as hundreds of cameras were installed in the walled city. The main mourning procession and later on other events were electronically monitored from the command and control center established in Qurban Lines.

Following Karachi and Islamabad, Lahore is the third city in the country which is being equipped with high-tech cameras connected with integrated video surveillance system. A Chinese technology firm has been engaged for the project. In coming days Electronic Traffic Violations system will also be made operational for which test tickets have been issued earlier.

A young team of professionals is being hired by PSCA from market who are working day and night along with international consultants from UK and Australia who are supervising execution by Chinese engineers. It is an international project, in true sense, with transparent functioning and best international standards in country. The Authority stresses upon people to cooperate for its success and share feedback through social and electronic media.