The modern digital technologies such installation of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) and its use to the advantage of the law enforcement agencies has become very important particularly for enhancing the capacity of police in preserving peace and security in the country in view of the challenges posed by the socio economic and political phenomenon under the dynamics of democracy and modernity. The capital city, Thimphu alone contributes to more than 32% of the crime and 75% of the motor vehicle accidents in the country besides other social problems such as unemployment, poverty, unsafe neighborhood, broken families, high suicide rates etc.
The CCTV project titled “Safe City Solutions” is an inspiration of His Majesty, the King who in a special message during the Royal Flower Exhibition at Ugyen Pelri Palace, Paro in April 2015 Commanded that “The place where we live must be clean, safe, organized and beautiful for national integrity, national pride and for our bright future. This too is Nation Building”. The vision of Safe City Project is “To make Thimphu one of the safest cities in South Asia for peaceful and harmonious lining of all the people through zero tolerance to crime, thereby contributing to the achievement of goals of Gross National Happiness” through the fulfillment of objectives such as:
a. To prevent and reduce crime through CCTV vigilance in the vulnerable areas in the community.
b. To enhance crime detection through video footage evidence and promote justice through credible prosecution.
c. To regulate systematic traffic management and address the growing traffic problem in the city.
d. To improve the efficiency of the police to respond to crime and natural disasters at the quickest possible time.
e. To provide a sense of safety and security to all the people for harmonious, peaceful and healthy living in the community.
f. To instill a sense of respect to the Laws of the Land and contribute towards safety and security of the Nation.
The primary rationale and motivation for embarking on the Safe City Solution Project for Thimphu city is based on the known fact that it would undoubtedly benefit the individuals, society and the country in the following areas:
a. Prevention, Reduction and Detection of Crime
Thimphu alone contributes to more than 60% of the total crime in the country. Out of the total crime of 2925, 2367 and 2055 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively, Thimphu contributed to about 1314, 891 and 746 crimes. The CCTV project would act as a major deterrence to prevent and reduce crimes, help in investigation and detection of crimes, particularly through video recorded evidence. It would also instill fear of detection among the criminals to commit any crimes.
b. Prevention, Reduction and Detection of Traffic Offences
As of 2014, Road Safety and Transport Authority have registered 69,602 vehicles in the country and 36,796 vehicles constituting of 53% of the vehicles are registered in Thimphu region. The substantial rise in the vehicles has led to increase in traffic violation, road congestion and chaotic traffic posing serious threats to road safety. Out of the total motor vehicle accidents of 1094, 791 and 715 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively, Thimphu contributed to about 741, 602 and 539 motor vehicle accidents. The CCTV would enable traffic personnel to manage, regulate traffic and respond to traffic related problems effectively.
c. CCTV as a key activity of Community policing
The installation of CCTV as a part of community policing program provides support to the community to address the immediate conditions that give rise to the public safety issues such as crime, social disorder and fear of crime. The CCTV will also supplement the role of police not just to arrest and obtain conviction but assist in prevention of crime and it will drive the police to change the role of law enforcement from a static, reactive, incident-driven force to a more dynamic, professional, friendly and public service oriented partnership with the community.
d. Security of homes and workplace
Closed circuit television (CCTV) could be used to protect our homes, offices, workplaces, town centers, roads and public transport. It could help protect key public establishments and provide people with a greater sense of protection and security. Further, CCTV would lead to discovery of crimes which usually remain hidden and unreported in the community. If any criminal activity is observed on a camera, the system operators can direct police response to the incident and if any citizen is unfortunate to be a victim of crime, at least there will be a strong chance of detection. The police could also undertake crime prediction and crime mapping exercises and subsequently provide timely public safety information.
e. Safe city would promote Tourism Industry
For Bhutan, tourism is an important source of revenue generation that helps in building the economy of the country. The gross earnings from tourism increased to USD 73.2 Million in 2014 from USD 63.49 Million in 2013. The total number of tourist visiting Bhutan has increased to 1,33,480 in 2014 as compared to 1,16,209 in 2013. The tourist will visit Bhutan only if it remains ever beautiful, safe and peaceful with lesser degree of crime. Thus, it is important to build our city as one of the safest city free of crimes and other vices by harnessing the greater benefits of CCTV.
f. Security of Dzongs and Vital Installations
The physical security of Tashichho Dzong, parliament buildings and vital installations are very important as it represents national identity, rich cultural and architectural history of Bhutan. The installation of CCTV will enhance the security of many such iconic structures having historical significance and daily associations on the lives of Bhutanese people. Further, it will help the State to preserve, protect and promote the cultural heritage of the country.
g. Improve efficiency of public service providers
The CCTV can enhance detection of fire outbreaks and any undesirable activities within the community and accordingly, key public emergency services such as ambulances, fire, rescue team and the police could respond in the quickest possible time to save lives and property. It would also lessen the physical contact between police and the public thereby reducing the risk of corruption while delivering public services, which in turn would promote transparency on the part of the service providers to enforce laws transparently and fairly. The installation of CCTV will also reduce on physical deployment of manpower, both traffic and normal police personnel. In the modern era, digital technology can boast human efficiency.
h. Uphold respect of natural laws and codified laws
According to the provisions of the Constitution, every person shall have the duty to act in aid of the law. His Majesty the King during the address to the Nation on 11 November 2015 has stated that “Rule of law brings about discipline in people and order in society. Citizen must uphold both natural laws and codified laws through their respect and conformity to it. If there is order in society, there will be peace and trust amongst the people”. Therefore, the presence of CCTV would promote respect for law and consequently, the rule of law shall be upheld and it will pave way for equality, fairness and justice.
The safe city project would enhance the capacity of the Royal Bhutan Police to keep peace and security in the community and promote Bhutan as one of the safest place to live and work in the region. The safe city project would also enable the Royal Government of Bhutan to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of His Majesty, the King in making Bhutan safe, clean and beautiful characterized by continued peace, progress and happiness.
The total cost of the project is Nu 149 Millions and has 118 cameras which will be installed at the various locations. The project is awarded to the Bhutan Telecom.