Crime Prevention in Central America

Goals

To gain a better understanding of the breakdowns in policing in Central America and further identify potential crime prevention systems and technologies for lowering crime in the region. The information will inform the process of designing an affordable and durable, mobile security surveillance cameras for poor, violent neighborhoods in Central America.

Early Findings

Overview

  • Despite strict police and judicial reforms, Central America’s violent Northern Triangle is still menaced by drug trafficking, corruption, drug trafficking, and gang violence.
  • According to 2015 investigations by Honduran newspaper La Prensa, an estimated $261 million is lost by Salvadorans and Hondurans to annual extortion fees to organized crime groups.
  • According to a report by the World Bank on Crime and Violence in Central America, systematic loopholes in policing encourage diversion of criminal justice resources or corruption of the criminal justice system itself.
  • Drug trafficking, organized youth gangs, availability of firearms are key drivers of crime in Central America.
  • Youth inactivity and unemployment are associated with a higher probability of youth engaging in risky behavior, including crime and violence.
  • World Bank suggests alternative dispute resolution, education, poverty reduction, and youth development as some strategies to lower crime in Central America.

Technologies and Systems for Crime Prevention

  • Statistics show that surveillance cameras have helped police reduce crime in Guatemala City.
  • Sectors under video camera surveillance have realized about a 40% decline in violence rates.
  • A report by Poverty Action proposes that the crime situation in Central America and Mexico can be managed through a system similar to the Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs).
  • The SDSCs are equipped with a suite of technology resources, including gunshot detection sensors, a network of surveillance cameras, and predictive policing software that identifies the blocks where gun violence is most likely to occur.
  • Research indicates that internet penetration and mobile use among people in the Central America region presents an opportunity for digital crime prevention efforts.

Proposed next steps:

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Our initial background research points to the availability of a great deal of information on the potential of mobile technology to reduce crime rates in Central America. Therefore, we recommend a deep dive to; 1) Identify breakdowns in policing in neighborhoods in Central America, including the weaknesses in policing systems and how security footage may aid policing. 2) Find data and insights into the potential of mobile security surveillance system in providing an affordable alternative for poor, violent neighborhoods in Central America, and provide examples of mobile camera surveillance systems that have worked to reduce crime in other areas other than Central America will be provided.
Further, we propose a detailed analysis of 2-3 case studies of mobile camera/surveillance security systems that have been implemented in Central America to lower crime rates in Central America neighborhood. The analysis of the case studies will include an overview of the mobile systems and integrated technologies, regions where they have been applied as well as success metrics of such systems.