Police in Punjab have reportedly tracked down over a 1,000 criminals from across the province using a software called Hotel Eye. At least 11 of them were fourth schedule suspects. While the number is surely commendable, what is more praiseworthy is the use of technology to fight crime in Pakistan.
Hotel Eye is part of Punjab’s bigger plan to use technology for good governance. In collaboration with Punjab Information Technology Board, the provincial government has taken many initiatives in this regard including automation of Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department, digitalisation of criminal database and suspect profiling. Its Crime Mapping software has allowed police in identifying crime pockets in Punjab as well as doing online crime investigations. The digitalisation is also being used to end corruption in police department through online monitoring of police stations, e-FIR registration, investigation evaluation and biometric attendance of personnel.
The Hotel Eye software is installed at hundreds of hotels across Punjab and has police data on criminals fed into its system — so when a person’s information is entered into the software, their criminal details appear on the screen for the hotel management to alert police if need be.
Pakistan has taken a little longer to realise the usefulness of technology and data in fighting crime but it is better late than never. With Punjab on the right track, the province will soon see what more can be achieved through technology. Organised and well-connected data on criminals, as in the case of Hotel Eye, can play a major role in preventing a crime from happening; for a country accustomed to fire fighting, this will be a crucial step up. Further, this data can come handy in discovering crime patterns and learning about how criminals think and act. Also, while the current focus may be on terrorism, big data can be used to fight all types of crime, cleansing Punjab and eventually entire Pakistan of its ills.