The New Taipei City Police Department activated its cutting-edge Intelligence Integrated Center on Wednesday, with the goal of using the technology to help lower the city’s crime rate.
Similar to a fictional system dreamed up for the US movie Enemy of the State, which tracks suspects using both security cameras and satellite images, the new technology can integrate information provided by GPS, a geographic information system (GIS) and the 110 hotline telephone reporting system, enabling the precise location of an incident to be pinpointed and for police officers closest to the scene to be quickly dispatched.
The center will also be able to compile images from more than 13,354 digital cameras in the existing road surveillance system, which will be boosted by an additional 27,000 high-resolution cameras by 2014. The image monitoring system automatically matches facial pictures with images in identity card records and other databases, which will help strengthen the ability of police to identify suspects and track criminal activities.
New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) estimated that the installation of the new surveillance system would cost NT$2 billion (US$68.94 million), but said the benefits would far outweigh the cost. The fast search system would help cut the number of officers needed to investigate a case and would increase police efficiency, he said.
However, some critics expressed concern that the new surveillance system would put people’s privacy at risk, as hackers could gain access to people’s personal information. Others were also uncomfortable with the thought of being constantly monitored on camera.
The police department said only authorized officers would have access to the system and that activity on the system would be automatically recorded.
Maintenance of camera equipment would also be made easier with the new system, they said, adding that if a surveillance camera is damaged or malfunctions, it sends a warning signal to the center through the GIS to alert police.