€205m IT overhaul of An Garda Síochána to include ‘big brother’ CCTV system

9 Jun 2016

A much-needed €205m overhaul for An Garda Síochána will include a Big Brother-style CCTV system and onboard computers in patrol cars

The rising cycle of violence in Ireland is about to be tackled by an increase in resources for the nation’s police force, An Garda Síochána, including a substantial €205m investment to overhaul outdated IT systems.

Cutbacks in recent years have taken their toll on morale and resources, and it has been revealed that many Garda stations don’t even have basic broadband connections, and a decades-old IT system called Pulse introduced in the early 1990s has been labelled “prehistoric” by officers.

At the same time, drug-related and violent crime and burglaries across Ireland have spiralled out of control.

‘These investments will ensure An Garda Síochána is resourced and supported both now and into the future’

Future Human

Now, as part of a plan to bring the Irish police forces up to scratch with their modern European counterparts, the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, has said she has secured substantial funding for An Garda Síochána.

An additional allocation of €55m will be made available for the remainder of 2016, which includes €5m previously announced in February.

“We are also committed to bringing the strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000; the number of civilian staff will be increased, and we are providing some €46m for the Garda fleet and an additional €205m for much-needed ICT,” Fitzgerald said.

“These investments will ensure An Garda Síochána is resourced and supported both now and into the future.”

Pulse to be replaced by Enterprise Content Management System

According to the Irish Independent, as part of the €205m IT overhaul, Garda stations are to be equipped with an Enterprise Content Management System that will allow CCTV to be shared by officers across the country.

The new CCTV cameras will be able to identify wanted criminals and alert officers in relevant locations.

‘This decision ensures the Gardaí have the necessary resources to face down the appalling and ruthless cycle of violence caused by organised crime’

Currently, the police force has 1,031 active GoSafe CCTV cameras on Irish roads, including 355 new zones that became active on 27 May.

The Enterprise Content Management System will replace the outdated Pulse system, which has been roundly criticised for not facilitating the tracking of data such as video evidence.

Garda cars are to be equipped with new onboard computers that will also allow for better surveillance of suspected criminals.

Such systems are standard in many states across the US. However, in Ireland, patrol cars rely on radioing colleagues back in their station to get basic information, such as number plate identification.

The new system will also channel 999 and public calls to one integrated national system.

The new system will provide officers with a “cradle-to-grave” overview of managing data on criminal cases, with officers able to review all evidence relating to suspects in one place.

The rising crime rates in Ireland, signified by recent gun attacks by criminal gangs that have seen seven men lose their lives, have been labelled a “scourge” by the Minister for Justice.

“Nobody is above the law. We have shown that in the past and we will show it again,” Fitzgerald said.

“This decision ensures the Gardaí have the necessary resources to face down the appalling and ruthless cycle of violence caused by organised crime and continue the successful crackdown on rural crime and burglaries.”

CCTV image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years