ON CAMERA: Live CCTV video showing the airport, Parliament and St Clair at the National Operations Centre in Port of Spain, yesterday.

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Griffith: CCTV cameras monitoring citizens all over T&T

By Curtis Rampersad Publications Editor

Captured on camera. 

This is what National Security Minister Gary Griffith hopes to achieve with a now-functioning network of CCTV cameras that has been in active use since last October to monitor roads, highways and the activity of Trinidadians across the country.

The network of CCTV cameras is already so extensive that it monitors thousands of drivers around the country as well as travellers entering and leaving the country from Piarco International Airport.

The CCTV communications platform was unveiled yesterday during a tour of the recently launched National Operations Centre (NOC) at its Knowsley Building headquarters in Port of Spain.

It was previously located in Riverside Plaza, Port of Spain.

The NOC has become the national focal point for public safety and joint security opera­tions in the country.

It combines the country’s law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, all operating under the same roof to monitor activities around the country by camera, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

NOC operations involve the Police Service, Fire Service, Defence Force and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM).

It is currently using the national CCTV initiative controlled by the police, which feeds real-time video into the NOC. The NOC also monitors rapid-response police vehicles to ensure they are operating within the zones to which they are assigned.

Security monitoring will also increase shortly with the inclusion of video from national security helicopters.

Data from the Coast Guard’s coastal radar system is also being fed to the NOC, and a more direct link with video being channelled straight to the NOC is coming on stream to more effectively monitor the country’s coastline.

It will shortly include Customs, Immigration, the prisons system and members of the country’s intelligence-gathering units.

Invited journalists and publishers were yesterday given a tour of active operations at the NOC, which was established in the middle of last year but became operational in October.

Leading the tour was Griffith, Communications Minister Gerald Hadeed and director of the NOC Commander Garvin Heerah.

The NOC is still only five per cent complete at a cost of $2 million and will not have all systems 100 per cent operational until February 2015, Griffith explained.

During the tour of the NOC’s monitoring systems, it however became clear CCTV and law enforcement eyes are already covering the country extensively.

Several desks were neatly arranged to face large, split-screen monitors which were running real-time video of a number of areas around the country.

Vehicles speeding along the Beetham Highway were clearly visible while NOC law enforcement personnel also monitored CCTV video of people and cars at the Parliament building on the Port of Spain Waterfront, Laventille and San Juan.

The NOC team also showed journalists passengers checking in for flights at Piarco and live pictures of them passing through security scanners before they boarded their flights.

A statement handed out by the National Security Ministry said the NOC will be the single agency with an integrated nationwide system for coordination among the multiple arms of the national security apparatus.

Minister Hadeed was more succinct, saying it will assist in solving crime, “ensure (citi­zens’) safety, your child’s safety and the country’s safety”.

The NOC, which Griffith said replaced the National Security Operations Centre (NSOC), went into action during the blackout in West Trinidad that followed a sub-station fire at Westmoorings on Wednesday, he added.

Griffith said the NOC was the communications platform between law-enforcement agencies, which sometimes took too long to share information or received inaccurate information.

It is different from the now-defunct Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT), which “was not always working with law-enforcement agencies”.

“The NOC will bring all agencies together,” Griffith said, adding the NOC will monitor car accidents, traffic, criminal activities, natural disasters and stolen vehicles, among other issues.

Law-enforcement agencies will be stationed at the NOC 24 hours a day, monitoring activities across the country, he added.

What the NOC does: 

• A platform for the integration of inter-agency operations and logistical support 

• Facilitates the intelligence and information fusion pertaining to planned operations 

• Integrates multi-source information into one platform to facilitate situational awareness on a 24/7 basis and information sharing 

• Provides a planning facility where law-enforcement bodies can access technology and operational intelligence 

• Manages an advisory system to alert services of any pending and existing threats that would be deemed to require a coordinated response 

• Has a watch keeper from each law enforcement body stationed at the NOC on a 24/7 basis. 

-Source: Ministry of National Security

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