Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia Turns to Technology to Fight Crime | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- In the latest step in the fight against crime, Saudi Arabia has installed surveillance cameras on its roads. The new technology registers every car’s registration plate and compiles them unto a national database. Those found to belong to wanted criminals are automatically forwarded to the relevant security departments who will take the appropriate measures. This new measure also traces traffic violations such as speeding and not following traffic lights.

General Fahd al Basher, head of the Kingdom’s traffic authority told Asharq al Awsat the use of surveillance cameras to regulate the flow of traffic was made possible by a public bid for a number of companies specialized in surveillance technology. He said the cameras would mask road offenders as well as identify the vehicles of known criminals and fugitives from justice.

Security around Saudi Arabia was currently at its highest level, the official added, in the wake of the safety campaigns in the capital, al Qassim and the Western region with more random searches taking places on the Kingdom’s roads in the near futures.

For its part, the Interior Ministry has established a new project linking private sector facilities to the national information center in order to track the movements of known criminal gangs. Companies accredited by the Ministry have created a computer program, entitled “shomos”, which provides the information center with the names and addresses of hotels as well as information on residents of rented properties and users of car rental companies.

Using this technology, Ministry officials were able to observe previously unobtainable details of the terrorist attack which took place near their offices on 29 December 2004 and monitor militants’ phone calls.

Increased surveillance capabilities assisted security forces in their fight against al Qaeda’s leader in the Kingdom, Saleh al Awfi, in Medina and the confrontation with terrorists in al Masyaf in Riyadh on 18th August 2005, including the death of one of the country’s most wanted Islamic militants, Majid al Haseri.