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Mobile App Helps El Salvador's Police Combat Sky-High Homicide Rates

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, July 2 2013

The El Salvadorian government has partnered with USAID and Qualcomm to give police officers crime fighting tools on their mobile phones. The program, called Seguridad Inalambrica (Wireless Security) was first tested in Santa Tecla. In September 2012 the program entered phase two and was expanded to cover other municipalities in the San Salvador metropolitan area. In June, a USAID representative spoke to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs about the reduction of crime in Central America and the Caribbean and mentioned the El Salvador program as one they hope to expand to cover other regions.

In 2009 a UN Development Program found that homicide rates in the north part of Central American, which includes El Salvador, are the highest in the world excepting war-torn countries.

Now that the project has entered phase two, more officers have access to the program, which has also been tweaked and updated. In the first phase officers could collect and share crime information across departments. This made it easier to identify patterns and let them monitor the situation in real time.

In phase two officers were given 3G smartphones with the Seguridad Inalambrica application. With the GPS and the camera, they can create detailed incident reports just with their phone.

From a Qualcomm press release:

Officers will have the ability to adjust GPS location to improve precision and attach photos and voice recordings to each report, which is then transmitted immediately via Tigo’s 3G network to the web-based crime database application; reports also can be entered, monitored, reviewed and approved via the web-based application at police bases. In addition, municipal violence prevention observatories have direct access to the database for advanced geospatial analysis of crime patterns.

In addition to this hi-tech solution, USAID is helping El Salvador to transition from a closed inquisitorial criminal justice system to a transparent accusatorial one. “An effective judicial system is key to the success of our efforts to improve security. Crime and violence thrives in environments where corruption and impunity are allowed to fester.

USAID has partnered with Qualcomm for other mobile initiatives around the world as well.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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