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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Incessant bomb blasts: ICT experts proffer solutions

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) experts in the country were in agreement to say that technologies have roles to play in ensuring the security of the nation remain intact.

This, they also said could only happen when the leadership of the three tiers of government appreciate the capabilities of ICT and began to deploy same for the benefit of the country

Leading the pack, the executive chairman of Technology Development Company (TDC), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem and chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, who both condemned the bombing at the police headquarters in Abuja.

They tasked the duo of the president and commander in chief, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Hafiz Ringim to look onto ICT in order to effectively solve the incessant bomb blasts in the country.

Dr. Ekuwem who was reacting to the recent suicide bombing of the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja, last Thursday, urged the federal and state governments to show greater appreciation for technologies with capabilities to enhance the automation of national security operations.

According to him, this is in order to effectively check the increasing spate of bombings in different parts of the country.

Though he blamed recent bomb blasts on government and security leadership in the country, Ekuwem noted that for the growing acts of insecurity, mostly on the slow pace of relevant government agencies to appreciate the urgent need to deploy advanced technologies to improve on effective security surveillance, monitoring and policing across the nation.

“They are not responding fast to the concerns of President Jonathan to keep Nigeria safe and secure. The President has made security one of his top priorities”, Ekuwem emphasized.

He condemned in very strong terms the recent bomb incidence as well as others that took place before now and advised that until the government agencies appreciate the viability of installing hi-tech scanning devices in strategic locations, security breaches such as the ugly occurrences we are witnessing in recent times will continue unabated for a long time.

Also, Ekuwem who is the immediate past National President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) described as unfortunate that bomb could even be detected at the entrance to the Police Headquarters.

“The simple fact that the security agencies could not detect the passage of the bomb devices in a car into the Nigeria Police Force headquarters, of all places, is a clear indication that much still needs to be done to improve our security surveillance, monitoring and policing operations.

Nigeria, he said, has a very robust ICT industry with enough experts to help the government devise water-tight security across the country, but one wonders why these relevant government agencies are not very sufficiently keen on taking advantage of the enormous power of ICT to leverage our national security operations as it is the case in advanced countries of the world.

“There are modern technologies like Vehicle and Cargo Scanning System (VACIS) that enable the scanning of every piece of cargo, container, truck and vehicles that enter Nigeria at the seaports, airports and inland border posts. Even if criminals weld the explosives or bombs or whatever into the panel or chassis of the vehicles, the scanners will pick them out. The scanning radiation can penetrate six inches of concrete and very thick steel materials.

The vehicle-mounted mobile ones will periodically or at a tip-off go on city scanning patrols. They can capture the number plates, biometrics of the driver as well as photographs and video clips of each port/border crossing into Nigeria by any cargo, container, truck, tanker or vehicle. They can scan on specific highways within Nigeria, roads, check-points, inland waterways, streets and roads leading to and entrances to big complexes like the Police headquarters, Federal Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eagle Square, Central Bank of Nigeria, National Assembly, Presidential Villa, and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, contents of cars, trucks, tankers, boats and ferries as the case may be.”

Ekuwem explained further that the scanned bulk material data, the image and video can be monitored in-situ as well as remotely, and the same outputs can be stored locally and remotely while stored data, again, can be accessed remotely on a password-restricted basis.

He insisted that when such security surveillance and monitoring facilities are installed in all major or strategic locations throughout Nigeria, security operatives will be able to detect and intercept bombs, explosives, arms and ammunitions as well as apprehend the criminals. He said there are fixed and mobile gamma and x-ray scanning devices that could be installed at strategic locations to monitor vehicles and persons with a view to checking the movement of arms and ammunitions including all sorts of dangerous weapons.

Ekuwem believes that other security breaches could be curbed if our security agencies could avail themselves of advanced ICT-based security technologies that are built to enhance intrusion sensing/detection, national identity data capture and management, biometrics data capture and storage, password-restricted access to stored data for both local and remote access, village-wide, town-wide, city-wide, state-wide and nation-wide surveillance (video with bi-directional audio) with local/in-situ, distributed and central/national storage/archiving with password-restricted access as well as with date-and-time-specific playback devices for crime monitoring, detection and investigations.

He said that when a person’s biometrics are captured and cross-checked against a national criminal database at check-in counters of airports, at hotel check-in counters, at bus and railway stations, in institutions of higher learning, by political parties while processing aspirants forms, by religious institutions and social clubs, etc, then ICT will ensure that there are no hiding places for criminals. We will drive them underground or help to put them behind bars where they rightly belong.

He insisted that Nigeria’s ICT industry can help the nation check the growing insecurity by establishing criminal databases with exciting agency-specific graphical user interfaces for use by law enforcement agencies. Ekuwem emphasized that the government has no reason to appear helpless at this time of serious national security crisis when there exist quantum technologies that could be relied upon for effective preventive remedies.

He said it was not just enough to procure pieces of security equipment from businessmen with purely commercial interest. He opines that government must look out for reputable and patriotic professionals who possess the relevant expertise that would ensure the workability of every piece of security equipment procured for the country.

“ICT can help, with enabling legislations by the National Assembly, to intercept criminal discussions and conversations in our ICT networks by criminals prior to or during or after crimes. We can enable the retention by telecom operators and Internet service providers of call data and catch word-specific Internet and Intranet content for a reasonably long period of time to aid criminal investigations when queried by appropriate software engines. This will check crimes at the planning stages and place our security operatives ahead of criminals’ activities,” Ekuwem said.

In his reactions, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo said that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have roles to play in ensuring the security of the nation at this era.

ICT, he said, should be used for surveillance, especially by deploying Internet Protocol (IP)-based cameras across country.

This, Adebayo pointed out could be deployed by taking connections through mobile Internet services and connected to video monitoring centres across the country.

He, therefore, urged the government to take this issue very seriously and treat it with the obvious urgency it require, so as to ensure the country is entire safe both for the citizens and investors alike.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

1 comment:

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