My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Eye in the Sky Project in Montego Bay – How Drones reduce Crime in St James in 6 months as NAITS Initiative gets Rebooted

Friday, February 13, 2015

Eye in the Sky Project in Montego Bay – How Drones reduce Crime in St James in 6 months as NAITS Initiative gets Rebooted

“At this time we are looking to have, maybe, one or two training Drones, because we have to go through a process. We have to be looking at the law that regulates the use of Drones”

Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Ferguson on Wednesday February 11th 2015 at a Press Conference announcing plans to use Drones in Policing in the St James Police Division

Jamaica, it seems is finally beginning to see the light as it relates to the usefulness of Drones, especially in Crime fighting.

A mere week after I came on the morning program CVM at Sunrise on Wednesday February 4th 2015, the (Jamaican Constabulary Force) aka the Jamaican Police, got the inspiration.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Ferguson on Wednesday February 11th 2015 announced at a Press Conference at the Area One police headquarters at Sewell Avenue, Montego Bay their intention to use Drones in Policing their area as noted in the article “Police look to Drones”, published Thursday, February 12, 2015 BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.



During the Press Conference, Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Ferguson explained that after getting the go-ahead from the JCAA (Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority), and other relevant bodies, the Eye in the Sky Project would begin training Police Personnel in the St James Police Division with two (2) Drones.

Quite aptly, the project is to be called the Eye in the Sky Project and will involve patrolling the hard-to-access trouble spots in Flanker, Canterbury, and sections of Norwood in the St James Police Division as noted in the article “Jamaica's police to use Drones in crime fighting efforts”, published Wed February 11, 2015, RJR News online.

The St James Police Division has repeatedly come under siege by criminal elements and the use of Drones is expected to give the Jamaican Police, for the first time in the history of Jamaican Policing, a decidedly aerial advantage.

Eye in the Sky in Montego Bay – NAITS Initiative but targeted at Crime in the St. James Police Division

Ok, so it's not exactly Drones in Journalism for Journalists in Jamaica as I’d argued on CVM TV that morning and later in my blog article entitled “FAA approves more Drone Contractors – How to use Drones for Journalism in Jamaica the coming Trend after smartphones in 2017”.

But it’s a lot closer to my original idea of having the Jamaican Police use Drones as suggested in my earlier blog article entitled “GOJ can develope UAV's as a means of giving the Police eyes in the sky - Inspiration for Aviators in Jamaica via G.I. Joe Retaliation”.

In fact, the Jamaican Police may already may be involved in training with the use of Drones as it relates to tackling the problem of Praedial Larceny as under the NAITS (National Animal Identification and Traceability System) Initiative that was launched in August 2014 by former Minister of Agriculture Roger Clarke as noted in my blog article entitled “NAITS Initiative launched at Denbigh Agricultural Show 2014 – How May Pen Police will work to reduce Praedial Larceny with Drones to come by 2017”.



NAITS, which officially got under way in October 2014, aims to also improve the quality of Jamaican meat by tacking the problem of Praedial Larceny and thus helping farmers to improve their livestock as noted in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Agriculture rolling out NAITS - How Jamaican Police with smartphones will Improve Meat Quality for Export while fighting Praedial Larceny”.

As part of that NAITS Initiative, the Jamaica Coast Guard has been drafted in plans formulated in early January 2014 to patrol our Territorial waters using Drones in order to catch Honduran fishermen sealing our Lobster and Conch as reported in the article “Agriculture Ministry Mulls Drones to Combat Poaching”, published February 12, 2014 By Garfield L. Angus, The Jamaica Information Service.

Not much has been said about this project, save to say that since April 2014, the Government of Jamaica has been slowly making adjustments to the Fisheries Bill which was tabled in the House of Representatives during the 2014/15 Parliamentary year with an aim to include Drones for this previously stated purpose as noted in the article “Revised Bill to Regulate Fisheries Sector to be Tabled in House”, published April 23, 2014 By Chris Patterson, The Jamaica Information Service.

Since then nothing more has been heard about Drones and any form of policing relating Praedial Larceny or Law Enforcement…..until now!

Eye in the Sky in Montego Bay – How Drones will reduce Crime in St James Police Division

Dubbed “Eye in the Sky”, the plan is to use the Drones as a kind of third eye, sent ahead of a Police response to a major disturbance in any of the troubled communities trouble spots in Flanker, Canterbury, and sections of Norwood in the St James Police Division in a bid to get an aerial perspective.

It would not only help the Police to assess trouble spots before they send personnel but would also act as a third eye in the sky, to paraphrase the name, especially where the roads are bad, saving the St James Police wear and tear on their vehicles.


It would also eliminate issues arising from conflicting reports between the Police and the citizens by providing another vantage point from which to observe the residents and eliminate the conflicting reports filed by Residents against the police, to quote Detective Inspector Vernon Ellis: “Basically, we are looking on the use of technology to combat the crime situation and we see where the Drone technology will just be an added tool to this crime fighting. The Drone will also assist with transparency; reason being, the citizens can also feel safer because the account of the police, as also their account in certain circumstances, could be captured by the eye in the sky”.

This is basically the same function as Body Cameras, but from an aerial point of view. Already the US Government is supportive of the idea of the Jamaican Police getting Body Cameras as noted in my blog article entitled “US Government US$400,000 for Body Cameras - How HD CCTV Camera Network, NWA PEN and GOVnet are connected”.

Drones in the sky are safe – Only Trained Marksmen can shot them down

Despite the words of the naysayers, predicting that this is a waste of money, shooting a Drone out of the sky isn’t that easy.

At 500m, the ceiling for these Drones as allowed by the JCAA, a person with a handgun or Rifles would have to be trained marksman to be able to shoot a Drone out of the sky, even with unlimited ammunition. Aside from members of the JDF (Jamaica Defense Force) and the JCF, very few Jamaicans have the level of marksmanship to shoot a moving Drone out of the sky.

Take a look at this Drone Footage take over Mountain View in Kingston, near to the National Stadium, a community with a violent past and with residents having some capability to shoot down Drones using handguns and Stones.


If a Drone is damaged, parts can be easily sourced from the manufacturer abroad and shipped down to repair the damage done to the Drone. Additionally, there is enough technically know-how and skill with Programming and Electronics in Jamaica to effect repairs should a Drone be damaged in an altercation with the Jamaican Public.

The main worry really is if the Drone falls out of the sky. This, however, is unlikely, as drones are pre-programmed to return back home to their last GPS coordinates should the battery power get too low and if they go out of range of their Radio Control!

Drones in St. James – If successful after Six Months, expect Corporate Jamaica to get on board

No specification were given as to the contractor from whom the Drones would be procured as well as the type, be they Quadcopters (4 rotors), Hexacopters (6 rotors) or Octacopters (8 rotors) or the type that have the profile of a small model RC plane. 

But if the Police are to use Drones, a procurement process will have to be followed if is via the Local Government or Central Government.

However, if the Drones are to up in the air for training by Jamaican Police in the Area One Division in six (6) months time, it suggests that the private/public sector and Business interest in the Montego Bay are the sponsors that Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Ferguson is referring to as privately funding this venture.

In short, this is the Business and Tourists interest in the Montego Bay Division funding a project, guaranteeing the six (6) months start up period.

Drones are definately a step in the Right Direction by the Jamaican Police and Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Ferguson must be congratulated for taking the flak on this one by making his division the guinea-pig to test out this Eye in the Sky Project.

If this project works in the next six (6) months, expect it to spread to the rest of the Police Divisions in Jamaica via similar partnerships with Private Sector companies putting up the money to sponsor a pair of Drones for the Police in Kingston to mount Aerial Patrols.

Cannot wait for the Ministry of Agriculture to make the necessary adjustments to the Fisheries Bill in order for Drones to be used to combat Poaching of Lobsters and Conch in our Territorial waters!



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