The government of Uganda has handed a lucrative multi-million dollar deal to a Russian security company to implement the much anticipated ‘Smart Tracking System’.
This Smart Tracking System, which is under the Intelligent Traffic Monitoring Project, includes manufacturing and installation of ‘electronic number plates’ on all motor vehicles and motorcycles in Uganda.
The massive project comes against the backdrop of increased cases of terrorism in Uganda in which high profile government officials have been killed in cold blood.
Amid public pressure to address insecurity in the wake of women kidnaps and the killing of AIGP Andrew Kaweesi, prosecutor Joan Kagezi and MP Ibrahim Abiriga among others, Museveni addressed Parliament Wednesday, 20 June 2018.
He revealed government’s strategy to defeat criminality, saying he would fingerprinting all legal guns; install CCTV cameras in urban areas and on highways; and fix electronic number plates on vehicles and motorcycles to enable Police track down owners of cars discovered at crime scenes. Museveni also ordered a ban on wearing of hooded jackets by cyclists.
With CCTV cameras being installed in many parts of the central region, government is now rushing to having the electronic number plates rolled out.
A highly placed official told ChimpReports on Tuesday morning that the scheme is partly aimed at consolidating internal security amid fears of possible infiltration of urban centres by foreign militants.
“It is not only about installation of electronic number plates but a complete overhaul of Uganda’s entire traffic monitoring system using the latest technology from the most advanced countries,” said an official briefed about this development.
“It’s going to be very difficult to commit a crime anywhere in Uganda and escape from the crime scene without being detected.”
This investigative website understands that Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda this past Friday met senior government officials mandated to work closely with a Russian company known as Global Security (Joint Stock Company) of Russia to implement the project by close of 2019.
The company formed in 1992 says in some of its advertorials that it is the leading Russian provider of IT security services, products and solutions.
Global Security says it offers wide-range of services in development, deployment and support of integrated information security systems, including: conducting information security audits to analyze the current security status of the information system; developing the information security policies and other procedures governing the aspects of information security; designing, developing and deploying integrated information security systems; and delivering and installation information security software and hardware.
Research on the internet does not show Global Security having implemented a similar project anywhere in the world.
However, an official at the Ministry of Security says Global Security has already submitted its project plan document and the required “technical architecture documents.”
Details of project are largely classified with some officials refusing to be quoted on the subject, citing security concerns.
But ChimpReports has learned that the Russian company dispatched its security experts to Uganda in May 2019.
On arrival in Uganda, the Russians met with a Working Group comprising security officials from Special Forces Command, Internal Security Organisation, Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence; and experts from Works Ministry, Uganda Communications Commission, Uganda Police Force, NEC, Uganda Revenue Authority, Ministry of Security and National Information technology Agency.
The Russians were informed that the implementation of the ‘smart Tracking System’ was in line with a presidential directive to improve crime management and revenue collections.
The method used to procure this company remains unclear.
But what we know is that a Public-Private Partnership agreement was signed between government of Uganda and Global Security in May 2019.
Different security organs and government institutions nominated officials on the Working Group, commencing work immediately.
The joint feasibility study commenced on May 22, 2019 with the report expected by end of June.
In the month of August, government plans to sign the contract with the Russians and also conduct public sensitization campaigns ahead of the implementation of the Smart Tracking System.
In September, a pre-pilot phase will be rolled out with electronic number plates being installed on 1,000 cars.
During this period, government will be preparing sites where the electronic number plates will be manufactured and installed on the rest of the cars.
Officials charged with the implementation of the project will receive training in November ahead of testing and commissioning of the system.
A trove of documents seen by ChimpReports does not show how government intends to address the issue of privacy.
This website understands President Museveni wants the new system to have several components which include video content analysis, automatic number plate recognition, sophisticated motion detection algorithms and facial recognition.
All new vehicles will come pre-fitted with high security registration plates.For example, police will know that you are driving to a hotel by looking at the footprint of the electronic number plate of your car.
And since you will be driving through streets dotted with CCTV cameras, you can easily be identified by facial recognition technology.
“In case of an accident, you can’t try to elude justice by running away and claiming someone else was driving your car. The facial recognition technology which relies on your bio data (including facial features) stored by NIRA will provide proof that indeed you were in the car,” said an official on the committee implementing the project.
Experts say as recording and storing technologies and software, such as video analytics, have become more efficient, CCTV systems have evolved from having a deterrent effect into a forensic surveillance tool, enabling the collection of evidence after an event has taken place.
Many civil liberty campaign groups, academics and consultants, have expressed concerns over CCTV systems.
Challengers of CCTV point out the loss of privacy of people under surveillance and the negative impact of surveillance on civil liberties. Furthermore, they argue that CCTV displaces crime, rather than reducing it.
According to the debate of whether surveillance cameras should be put in public areas, such as schools, stores, libraries, airports, bars and clubs, some individuals feel more secure with cameras, while other citizens and privacy advocates feel nervous about the idea of someone watching them every time they are out in public.
Professor Dr. Milan Marković, a researcher, says as the volume and quality of cameras and sensors are increased, cities are turning to more advanced face and object recognition software to make sense of the data; civil liberty activists are concerned about how the technology of CCTV systems could be abused.
“With cameras in remote cities all connecting to the same database, a person’s movements can be tracked across states or continents. For instance, it could be used to single out a person attending multiple political protests,” says Milan.
- Working Group to provide status report on June 14, 2019
- Global Security table draft report of feasibility study on June 30, 2019
- Final feasibility report to be provided on July 15, 2019
- Pre-pilot of 1,000 cars to begin on September 1, 2019