Nairobi — A safe, secure and organised city is the dream of every Nairobi resident. This may become a reality by end of January next year, if a promise by Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Jamleck Kamau is anything to go by.
According to Kamau, the city will be under surveillance after the ministry signed a contract with Ms Nanjing Les Information Technology of China which has already started working on an integrated urban surveillance system to manage security and crime in the city and its environs.
"Phase I of the project is ongoing. In the next two months, we expect this surveillance to be commissioned. This will dramatically change the way things are in Nairobi," he said.
Under Phase I of the project, video cameras will be fitted in 51 locations within the city to monitor traffic and crime.
"A total number of 51 camera locations which include crime spots and all traffic lights controlled junctions have been identified for Phase I of the project."
It will cover the Central Business District, Kirinyaga Road and its environs, Community Area, Kenyatta National Hospital, Machakos Country Bus Station, Muthurwa Market and Gikomba areas.
"A total number of 51 camera locations which include crime spots and all traffic lights controlled junctions have been identified for Phase I of the project," Kamau asserted.
Once in place, the cameras will coordinate traffic lights to facilitate easy flow of vehicles instead of having police officers man traffic.
Speaking during the launch of the project at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Kamau said there will be a control room to observe the surveillance system.
"The contract includes installation of new traffic lights to improve traffic management and monitoring inter-connected traffic signals. It will capture the happenings at the junctions and any traffic offences. It will capture speeding vehicles through number plate recognition," the minister said.
The surveillance system will also be fitted with smart cameras that will record faces of people.
Kamau noted that this will record face images of criminals which will aid police in their investigations.
This also may spur flexibility in the Kenyan courts which do not recognise video evidence.
"We are putting terrorists and those criminals on notice. Their days are actually numbered. Once this project finishes, those terrorists will have nowhere to hide, they need to be prepared to stop what they are doing."
The project that costs Sh437 million will facilitate recordings of up to one month and will have an impact on the city which has been grappling with attacks linked to terrorism and daily robberies.
"We are putting terrorists and those criminals on notice. Their days are actually numbered. Once this project finishes, those terrorists will have nowhere to hide, they need to be prepared to stop what they are doing," he warned.
The new technology will also require new skills which according to Kamau, is well covered in the training planned for police and people who will be operating the system.
The project will require close working relationship between the ministry and the police.