21st century security requires 21st century methods and approaches. Jidaw observes that one of the ways in which the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is getting smart about policing is through the recently introduced Smart Police mobile application.
Specifically the Lagos State Police Command of the NPF has stated that this app can be used to report incidents (rape, robbery, assault, theft, etc) to the police in a private, secure and timely manner. The development of the app, according to the command is in line with its present security policy thrust of intelligence led policing and community policing.
The innovative approach to policing and security is long overdue. Jidaw is of the view that poor security works against investment and growth. Interestingly, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the premier association of IT professionals and stakeholders regards 2016 as the Year of Innovation in National Security. To this end, NCS will be holding its annual National Conference in July 2016 with the theme, “Information Technology for National Safety and Security”.
Developed by Cyberspace, a reputable Nigerian firm, the Smart Police app is presently available on the Google play online store. Marketing literature states that the app not only enables users to send in incident reports but also provides real-time updates as the police deal with the incident(s). It is essentially aimed at innovating and expanding access to the Lagos State emergency command and control centre, which was previously only accessible through the 112 and 767 emergency numbers. A smarter way to achieve rapid response of the police to emergency and life threatening situations is now available. Nearly all homes and organizations have access to mobile devices and Smart police highlights the need to develop mobile apps to address relevant issues and challenges in society. Jidaw gives kudos to Cyberspace and the NPF on this innovation.
However, efficient and speedy police response to emergencies is just one dimension of smart policing. In Jidaw’s opinion, bringing smart to policing will also include the adoption of strategic and proactive approaches to crime reduction. Such an approach involves leveraging technology for police and criminal justice research. Instead of acting as a reactive system, smart crime control uses data and research to develop, evaluate and implement crime fighting strategies for improved public safety outcomes. Data is gathered and trends databases are created and useful information is identified.
Smart is also about sustainability in crime fighting. Crime is chronic and resources are limited. Jidaw asks: How many policemen can effectively police every inch of a suburb not to talk of a city? To work “smarter” is to do more with less. How effective is random patrol and rapid response in reducing and preventing crime? Violent crime is real. But it’s the 21st century and guns alone can’t win this war. React but where is the intelligence? Policing needs to be proactive and employ data. And smart policing can’t be limited to technology introduction and implementation. Other issues integral to innovation in policing and security include organizational change, accountability, changes in investigative processes, training of law enforcement officers and the policing culture. Smart policing means the police man on the beat, in the station must meet the smart requirements (technology, culture, ethics, etc).
Criminals are getting more daring and imaginative. Jidaw insists that innovation keeps the crime fighters a step ahead. Cyberspace and the police must again be commended for the Smart Police mobile app initiative. It is a good first step. The police in particular must go further to understand, embrace and work with the complete picture of Smart Policing. To make our communities safe and secure, getting smart about policing is a necessity not an option.