Will the Proposed Compulsory Connection of Private CCTVs to National Grid Succeed

The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Geoffrey Katsigazi Tumusiime has started engaging urban authorities to compel landlords to Closed-Circuit Television – CCTVs on their premises. He says the installation of CCTVs in private premises and connecting them to the Nagura-Police headquarters-based National CCTV Command Centre will result in wider security coverage.

Gen Tumusiime cites an example of residents of Muyenga who have allowed their private CCTVs to be connected to the National CCTV Command Centre. “You should have cameras on your house for your own security and the community. And then you allow us to tap into them, we will have a wider coverage covering all of us. We have no law to allow us that but we ask the urban authority to put ordinances in place. Every house should have CCTV and security lights,” Gen Tumusiime said.

Paul Senoga, an Information and Communication Technology-ICT expert, says connecting private CCTVs to the National CCTV Command Centre isn’t a bad idea but the past experience where security agencies have been accused of tapping into people’s conversations without authorization scares many even when the objective is beneficial to all. He cites an example of last year’s proposal to install tracking chips on all government and private vehicles, which caused a storm and has since stalled. He believes that even this one would cause public uproar if security chooses to do it forcefully.

Najib Kasule, a human rights lawyer says that the police should make sure there is consent, or else people will reject the move while others might choose legal action against ordinances passed by urban authorities. Kasule re-echoes Senoga’s concern that people still remember technologies that have been procured to illegally eavesdrop on their conversations. 

Yusuf Ssewanyana, the ICT director of the Uganda Police Force, says there is nothing to worry about when it comes to CCTV connections because people are in a world where there is someone watching and monitoring whatever they do. Ssewanyana explains that the digital footprint for whatever a person does is important in policing. 

But Senoga notes that some people are worried about the costs of installing CCTV cameras while others haven’t embraced technology-based security solutions and need to be sensitized.

CCTV cameras, according to Senoga work in a chain, meaning one camera might not do the necessary work. CCTV cameras cost between Shillings 100,000 and Millions of Shillings depending on the type and set one needs. Police have erected more than 5000 CCTVs mostly in urban areas. Of these, 3323 are in the Kampala Metropolitan area that covers Kampala City, Wakiso, and Mukono districts. Ssewanyana recently said slums in KMP are dark spots because they are not connected to CCTVs, adding that they need more than 5000 CCTVs to cover KMP alone.

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