Police tap ICT to boost crime fighting capability

Amid the clamor for a more responsive and effective police force, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced its adoption of a high-tech approach to crime fighting that integrates information and communication technologies (ICT) in its crime fighting strategy.

Last week, the PNP formalized its partnership with ICT solutions provider Mod.Net.Ph Internet Infrastructure Inc. which is expected to jumpstart a slew of computerization initiatives within the national police force.

This alliance addresses the most basic automation requirements of the PNP. Mod.Net has offered to provide – free of charge – an e-mail communication system, basic Internet connectivity, and Internet and e-mail security solutions to the police agency.

“Mod.Net has offered its services to the PNP to help improve the police organization’s ICT system that covers various divisions, directorates and police districts across the country. These solutions are targeted to not only facilitate communication and coordination among various PNP units, but to secure the PNP’s virtual communication channels as well,” Mod.Net chair and chief executive officer Judith Duavit Vazquez said.

According to Vazquez, Phase 1 of the program covers the installation of Internet firewalls with virtual private network (VPN) capabilities to secure all Internet access points of the PNP. An Internet-based e-mail communications system with a built-in Level-3 security will be set up as well.

Phase 2 involves the development of a comprehensive ICT security solution strategy for the PNP’s Command and Control Centers (COC). The COCs are envisioned to serve as “intelligent data gathering and response action hubs,” which will be dispersed in strategic spots within the metropolis.

“The COCs will be instrumental in our quest for a more effective police force,” Ricardo de Leon, director of the PNP community relations office, said. These hubs, he explained, will be equipped with an incident monitoring system that will capture all reports and requests for police assistance, and track actual police response.

“With all these in place – with everything centralized in the COCs and with information sharing made faster and easier through the Internet – we expect to improve crime reporting and prevention and hope to lower (the current) crime rate by up to 40 percent,” PNP Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said in a statement.

“With Mod.Net’s help, the PNP would be able to facilitate communication within the organization, be more accessible to the public, and be able to provide prompt and quality response to public complaints and queries,” Ebdane continued.

While private sector assistance is vital, the PNP leadership said support from other government agencies is also crucial.

Cognizant of the police agency’s need for wider and more secure communication channels to improve public service, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has offered its support to the PNP’s crime fighting campaign.

“The NTC is supportive of the PNP’s modernization efforts. We at the NTC will be on hand to facilitate the use of any frequency that the PNP may require,” NTC Commissioner Armi Jane Borje told reporters during the contract signing ceremonies between Mod.Net and PNP.

The NTC is the sole government body tasks to oversee frequency management and ensure the effective use of the radio spectrum which, as pointed out by Borje, is a “limited natural resource.” CALL 117 Also in line with the PNP’s thrust to be more accessible and responsive to the public, the national police agency announced it is centralizing its police emergency hotlines for both voice calls and text messages.

PNP used to maintain numbers 2920 for its TXT PNP emergency response project, and hotline 117 for its Call PNP program. Complaints, requests for assistance, and emergency cases may be reported to the police – under these programs – either through text messages (2920) or voice calls (117).

Under the new hotline scheme, however, both text or voice call reports may be forwarded to the PNP using a single 117 hotline.