By Prince Osuagwu
EVER since the fortunes of the nation’s security took a downward spiral, culminating in the recent attack on the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, many Nigerians have spoken out on the need to further secure the country against internal and external incursions.
Among them is top ICT professional and security equipment specialist, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, who opined that boosting security nationwide does not require rocket science know-how but that of mere ICT application. In an exclusive chat with Vanguard Hi-Tech, Ekuwem, who is CEO of Teledom Group and past president of ATCON,noted that all it takes to push insurgents out of the system was to show them that their identities could be an open secret. For him, this only requires putting the right surveillance applications in place and into right use.
His words: “The fact is that we can have ICT-based automation of procedures in the Nigeria Police Force, Army, Navy, Air Force, Customs, Immigration, NDLEA, Prisons, State Security Service, FRSC, including the National Security and Civil Defence Corps which can enable them bend over their laptops to have access to a criminal database and know whether a suspect is a serial offender.
“If we are serious about security, we should have Gamma ray-based scanning of vehicles and cargoes, VACIS, on our roads, highways, airports and seaports to detect bombs, explosives, arms, ammunitions, light weapons and dangerous chemicals with local and remote display of scan outputs using broadband”. Ekuwem stated that all the acts of terrorism in the country recently were perpetrated by human beings who with impunity transport their terrorist equipment and tools undetected.
He said that the issue of tackling security in the country was a matter of asking the right questions, inherent in which are the answers. The questions according to him, include “how can we use ICT to monitor, detect, analyse, transmit the acquired data and information, receive same, store same, retrieve same for further analysis and retransmission, coordinate and manage an entire operation? How can we uniquely identify a criminal? How can we track, monitor and locate terrorists? Do we have CCTV-based or IP camera-based surveillance of our major towns and cities? Can we rapidly analyse the acquired video data for rapid response intervention with arrest of criminals? My simple reaction to all these questions is: ICT to the rescue! Software engine to the solution.”
National security database
He advocated that the country should have a national security database with some form of password-restricted access, which all security institutions in the country, tertiary institutions, hospitals, banks, insurance companies, hotels and guest houses, church and mosque administrations, sports and recreational clubs, airports, seaports and motor parks, should be connected to. His reasons were that since an average citizen must have one thing or the other to do with one or two or more of these institutions and organizations, it would be simple to detect one with criminal records, just by a mere logging in of his details.
“Just imagine at a hotel or airport check-in counter, motor park, railway station or in a bank when your criminal identity is known via a software-triggered pop-up by a young man or woman who was compelled by due process to log in to the criminal database while attending to you. The bank will refuse to do business with you. The hotel will politely refuse to check you in. Wherever you go your criminal past will haunt, embarrass and shame you down. Criminals will either be embarrassed out of our streets in shame or be legally put behind bars where they actually belong.
No rocket science
“It is no rocket science to have CCTV/IP Camera-based surveillance of each local government headquarter in a state. Video/audio outputs are transmitted to a designated security monitoring centre in the local government secretariat or in the Divisional Police Officer’s office. Transmission to monitoring centres can be by broadband wireless or fibre optics. Video/audio outputs from contiguous local government secretariats are homed to the Area Police Commands as mini monitoring centres.
Outputs from Police Area Commands are homed to master monitoring centres in the State Police Command Headquarters. In each of the monitoring centres, a software engine provides playback on a date-and-time-specific basis of what happened when, where, how and by who? Transmission from points of data capture to monitoring stations can be by satellite, optic fibre or terrestrial microwave.
Role of NigComSat,broadband cable operators
This is where NigComSat, Galaxy Backbone, Main One, Glo One, Teledom, among others come in. They will provide large capacity long distance broadband transport facilities. Acquired data can be analysed in situ or remotely for rapid response or intervention by relevant security agencies. You can contact the Institution of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) to give details of this kind of software engine. By the time we have broadband infrastructure penetration of all offices, homes and buildings in Nigeria, surveillance will be easy, fun and exciting.
There are mobile VACIS systems that can easily be tucked into security patrol vans for deployment at checkpoints in fifteen minutes. We can deploy Optical Character Recognition (OCR) systems to capture the number plates of culprit vehicles as well as utilize Identity Recognition (IR) systems to uniquely identity and apprehend the criminal motorists. Outputs of all these scanning devices can be displayed in situ or remotely via broadband connectivity with high level software engines for date-and-time-specific playback.