Leveraging emergency communication centres in security management
The use of information and communication technologies has been increasing day-today throughout the world since the 1980s, as these technologies seem to reduce the complexity of issues for governments and at the same time reduce the context.
According to the World Bank, ICT consists of the hardware, software, networks, and media for the collection, storage, processing, transmission and presentation of information (voice, data, text, images), as well as related services. The World Bank further states that ICT can be split into ICI and IT. Information and Communication Infrastructure (ICI), refers to ―physical telecommunications systems and networks (cellar, broadcast, cable, satellite, postal) and the services that utilise them Internet, voice, mail, radio, and television).
Lately, calls are mounting on the need for Nigeria to deploy ICT to tackle various forms of insecurity in the country. Reports over the years show alarming increase in levels of crime, ranging from terrorism to kidnapping, and armed robbery, banditry, among others.
The persistence of insecurity has been claiming precious lives of citizenry and government efforts to
tackle the problem through various menial methods and approaches such as the use of police, military, vigilante and local hunters seem not to be yielding success. But deploying technology, through the use of ICT devices such as computer, Internet, mobile phone, close circuit television (CCTV), surveillance cameras, social network analysis, biometry surveillance, data mining, satellite imagery, and IP devices, the satellite would definitely produce the desired results.
Another strong argument is that besides its speed, technology-driven surveillance and intelligence gathering cost less in terms of men and logistics.
In the fight against the rising insecurity, Nigeria is deploying communication centres across the country with the hope that it can be adequately leveraged to mitigate the security challenges.
Now in 19 states, including FCT, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said the target is to deploy the facility in the 36 states of the federation.
At the commissioning of two additional Emergency Communications Centres (ECC) in Ogun and Enugu States, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, said the project had been boosting one important aspect of the tripartite agenda of the Federal Government, which is improving the security of life and property.
Pantami said the project was giving a fillip to the country’s quest to leverage technology in addressing its security challenges while driving home the digital economy agenda of the government.
Already, individuals, states and the Federal Government agencies are leveraging the 112 National Emergency Number, whose calls are handled through ECC.
What is EEC?
The ECC is a one-stop-shop through which members of the public can access help from any response agency such as the police, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Fire and Ambulance Services, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) among others, by dialling 112 from any network, free of charge.
Each ECC is equipped with emergency communication facilities such as 11 workstations, 10 for call taking and one for the centre supervisor; a server system that receives and processes 112-calls from members of the public and then dispatches the calls to the appropriate agency that has the responsibility to attend to the specific emergency.
Members of the public do not have to memorise several 11-digit numbers from different response agencies, as it may have been the case; Power supply mix consisting of public power supply from the national grid, two units of 100KVA generators and two units of 20KVA UPS powered by 160 units of 100AH inverter batteries and a 10KVA UPS powered by 16 units of 100AH inverter batteries and the facility is also equipped with six dispatch workstations for the response agencies. At the moment, eighteen states and the FCT have functional ECCs, but according to NCC, efforts were being made to activate ECCs in the remaining states of the federation. Currently, the commission said works were on-going to build the facility in five states.
Importance of Facility
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, whose tenure has been championing the establishment of the infrastructure, noted that ECCs are deliberate projects embarked upon by the commission pursuant to its mandates enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, to dedicate a national emergency number and to ensure the protection of life and property of Nigerians.
As of today, 19 states of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have benefited from functional ECC projects. Beneficiary states now include Ogun, Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Imo, Enugu, Anambra and Adamawa.
NCC said efforts were on-going to deploy ECC facility in other states of the federation. All telecoms operators have been mandated to route emergency calls through the dedicated three-digit toll-free number – 112 – from each state to the emergency centre within that state. According to NCC, by simply dialing the dedicated toll-free line, citizens can easily receive timely succor in times of emergency from appropriate emergency response agencies (ERAs) such as the Police, (FRSC), fire service, ambulance service, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and so on.
Greater boost to security management
President Muhammadu Buhari, at the unveiling of 112 National Emergency Number and ECC for FCT, underscored the significance of the ECC project, describing it as a project that would complement the Federal Government’s efforts at enhancing the security of lives and property in the country.
President Buhari said: “We have taken advantage of digital technologies to ensure that Nigerians in distress are only a dial away from the relevant emergency response institutions in the country via the 112 number.”
According to him, the NCC’s 112 national emergency number would go a long way in supporting our efforts to improve the security of life and property. The project, he added, falls within the tripartite agenda of his administration, which focuses on addressing security issues, improving the economy and curbing corruption.
At the launch of the Katsina State centre, Danbatta said the project was essentially aimed at enhancing the security of lives and property of our people in Katsina State, while commending the state governor for his contributions towards the successful launch.
According to him: “It is common knowledge that security of life and property is a prerequisite for progress in any society or nation. Individuals, both great and small, often encounter emergencies at different times in life.
“However, it has become a common occurrence for innocent lives to be lost in minor emergencies, which ordinarily could have been averted if help was timely available. This is what obtains in developed societies with the ‘911’ service in the United States of America being one of the best-known examples of an emergency assistance number.
“What we are witnessing is the birth of our national emergency number for the security of lives and properties of our people. Consequently, NCC has approved a Toll-Free 3-digit number ‘112’ as the universal emergency communication telephone number in Nigeria. Through this dedicated number, members of the public can conveniently access help when in distress by simply dialling 112 from any of the networks they use and they shall not be charged.”
Feedbacks on Project
Testimonies of those who already explored the centre have been positive. A resident of Ningi in Bauchi State, Adogu Ibrahim, recently took to social media to commend NCC for the responsiveness of its national emergency number (112) in tackling fire incident from ravaging a pharmaceutical shop. Narrating his story on Twitter, Ibrahim wrote: “Today, I feel proud of my country. A neighbour of mine pharmacy shop was up in flame. I made a call through 112 to the emergency fire service and got an immediate response.
They called back immediately that they were already on the ground and the fire was put out with little or no damage even before I got to the premises. “This is the Nigeria I crave for in all sectors where efficiency defines our approach to public services.”
Chief Executive Officer, Masters Technology, Akure, Ondo State, Ade Olasogba, noted that every advanced civilization, including security, is powered by technology.
According to him, the more diverse and cutting-edge technologies become, the better for peoples’ advancement.
“ICT has a huge role to play in every facet of our lives. That is why it has become critical in tackling security lapses. The deployment of CCTV cameras, use of Machine Learning, Emergency Communications Centres (ECC), will help a lot in managing security in the country,” he stated.
On the establishment of ECC in Ondo state by NCC, Olasogba said the project falls within the third agenda of President Buhari, where the Commission is leveraging ICT facility deployment across different states to set up emergency toll-free number 112, similar to the 119 in the USA, to provide communication link between Nigerians in emergency and necessary government agencies that can offer them help during such situations.