The surprise raids, abductions and release of 334 students of Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State and others across the Nothwest region and parts of the country can be prevented, if there was any such thing as aerial surveillance.
This was the view of a technology expert, and Chief Executive Officer of Airwired Nigeria Ltd, Oladapo Ogundipe. Ogundipe, who said drones are expensive, have short flight time, easily affected by weather and prone to accident, noted, however, that there are readily available and far inexpensive facilities on the ground.
According to him, mounting cameras on telecommunications masts is as good as covering the ground from above the same way drones do. Ogundipe, a graduate of Software Engineering and Managerial Economics, said Airwired Advance Video Security can deliver business outcomes,” through partnerships with “creators of trusted powerful video security solutions, intelligent cameras, video management software, storage and access control solutions that provide customer safety and protection.”
Ogundipe, who demonstrated a video along Marina in Lagos, something like a bird’s eye-view from above, said, “one could see the entire aerial view from marina and even zoom further beyond up to some parts of Apapa across the lagoon by installing a IR Pan Tilt 45X Zoom (PTZ) 2MP with video analytics camera on one of the telecommunications masts on Marina.”
For him, the infrastructure already exists, adding; “All over the country, we have telecoms masts which are completely standalone, fully operational with constant power and Internet connectivity available.”
Ogundipe further explained: “The implementation can only be limited by our imagination. A good way forward is for the government to ride on the back of this infrastructure created by telecoms operators, co-locate and pay rent for the space and mount very long range 8mega pixel PTZ cameras which have at least five years warranty and with long range IR, which is at least three times the distance of the camera.
“If you create a map with the locations of the masts highlighted, it will be able to predict a general coverage of a wide landmass. Imagine a kidnap occurs in a part of the country, it will be possible for the security agencies to predict the direction of the kidnappers based on CCTV footage which will be covered by cameras placed on the masts and they can now organise a manhunt based on information provided by the embedded cameras.”
More than anything else, Ogundipe said, is using this available technology as a deterrent, to deter potential criminals or even kidnappers from making easy meat of vulnerable Nigerians and getting away with it.
According to him, if some of the telecommunications masts near GSSS were fitted with cameras, for instance, it is doubtful if the abductors would have contemplated ever going there. He said except in some rare cases, criminals don’t operate where they know they are being watched in real time.
According to the security expert, most companies and individuals install CCTV “as a deterrent for prevention and intervention, because people know they are being monitored by operators in real time, and also to be able to record events as they occur for future playback and post-incident investigation.”
Ogundipe said implementations are vast, depending on the needs of the company or customer. For example, he said an automobile dealer “can install license plate recognition cameras to read license plate numbers of vehicles at its entrance points to search for when a vehicle entered or left the premises” while “a bank in Marina may install facial recognition cameras at its entrance points and load all faces of security personnel, customers and staff into system database with their names and ID numbers. When they walk past they will be identified.
“All organisations can install perimeter cameras so that if anyone jumps over, an alarm will be triggered and an operator will take over and commence investigations immediately. These cameras are able to do all sorts of things, including drawing a line around an area and demarcating it as a no-go-area for after-hours when nobody will be allowed, including the security guards, who will use specified walkways and if anyone enters those zones the cameras will raise an alarm and the Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) operator will take over immediately. Once we do this and constantly strive to improve, both our analytical capabilities and our ability to cover wider areas in realtime, we should be competitive enough.”
According to him, Nigeria is not fighting a conventional war with any country today, but the security situation calls for urgent and revolutionary/innovative measures because, as President Muhammadu Bubari said, “we cannot continue like this.”
According to him, drones and spy planes are expensive, but there are already existing facilities that can perform the same functions, as spy planes without fear of discovery or being shot down and then sparking off diplomatic row. Ogundipe believes that the scale and penetration of CCTV services countrywide is a game-changer.
He noted: “You see, people still buy old and unsecured technology probably because it’s cheaper. You know we do not manufacture these equipment here and we have to import. The fluctuations of the global currency markets affect our purchasing power and the lack of a manufacturing base to make some of these products locally means we have to play catch up.”
Catching up with what is immediately available is Ogundipe’s concern. He even suggested the possibility of covering blind spots, areas where there “will be traffic and other situational preventative CCTV operating, which can be coordinated. We would need to include the control room and networking components to complete the system.”
Besides its primary function of deterrence to criminals, Ogundipe said, the technology will also “help in the construction of an identity database of criminals as it records images, meaning that these same images can be of value to the security agencies.”
But most important of all, according to the security expert, is that with the country secured through electronic surveillance, the type of surprise attacks that happened in Kankara, Dapchi, and Chibok would be avoided to save the country needless headache as a result of these criminal activities.