Alternative ways to deter crime: GPS Tracking

Alternative ways to deter crime: GPS Tracking

The security industry exists to provide and ensure safety of the population. Teams of developers are constantly working on new devices to better protect not only the people but also their properties. Regular existing technologies such as GPS trackers are also being improved and used in innovative ways to deter various criminal activities. Whether the devices and plans are proposed by the government, civil rights activists, or even mere students, they can all be seen as one more step towards greater safety and security.

GPS Bottles to Thwart Drug Theft in the Big Apple
In January 2013, Raymond Kelly, Commissioner of NYPD announced a plan to combat the theft of painkillers and other addictive medicine, as it is beginning to become a rampant crime in the city of New York. The initiative, termed “Operation Safety Cap”, was spurred by a series of high-profile crimes associated with the thriving black market for oxycodone and other prescribed painkillers. One particular case included that of a 33-year old military veteran with no previous criminal record, but killed four people while robbing a Long Island pharmacy in his attempt to obtain prescription drugs to feed the addiction of both him and his wife back in 2011.

In Manhattan alone, more than 9,000 bottles of painkillers being sold in open-air markets were seized by officials in 2012. Commissioner Kelly outlined the plan at a health issues conference hosted by former President Bill Clinton's foundation in La Quinta, California. The police force plans to work jointly with all pharmacies in Manhattan and place fake “bait” bottles of drugs with hidden GPS devices amidst bottles of actual painkillers on their shelves. The NYPD is starting to compile a database of roughly 6,000 pharmacists and 1,800 pharmacies in the New York City area, with plans to arrange visits from officers to make proper recommendations on improving security systems, such as alarms and lighting and stronger safes. Working together with the NYPD is Purdue Pharma, the company who manufactures OxyContin and other prescribed medicine. Purdue Pharma will be in charge of supplying the GPS-fitted “bait” bottles to the pharmacies throughout the city. Though no further details can be released due to the sensitive nature of this subject, it is evident that the NYPD plan to crack down on the epidemic of crimes related to prescription drug abuse.

Manhattan will not be the first city in the U.S. to be taking this measure. So far, two men have been arrested in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after robbing a Rite Aid pharmacy in November 2012. Within half an hour after the robbery, the police successfully apprehended the two suspects after following signals released from the GPS tracking device located in at least one of the stolen pill bottles. These men were believed to be connected to 15 other pharmacy robberies. Similarly, in Camden, Maine, another man robbed a local Rite Aid pharmacy at gunpoint. Unaware of the GPS device in the pill bottles, the man bolted from the pharmacy but was arrested by the police four days later.

Project Natalia Aims to Save Lives
Named after Natalia Estemirova, a human rights activist who was abducted from her home and murdered within 24 hours, the Natalia Project is a bracelet distributed by the Civil Rights Defenders in hopes of preventing similar tragedies in the future. After all, a majority of human rights activists are situated in constant danger as they fight fervently for freedom and equality. The chunky bracelet, recently tested in the fields of Azerbajdzjan, was able to produce satisfactory results. Once triggered, the bracelets will use a mobile signal to notify of an attack and issue a real-time GPS location of the victim to the Civil Rights Defenders' headquarters. Nearby contacts will also be alerted so immediate actions can be taken to rescue the victim. What's most unique about this bracelet is that it will also send an alert to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to notify the public of the attack being placed on the victim.

These bracelets will first be distributed to a small group as funding is still a problem. The first five bracelets were distributed by the human rights organization on Defender's Day in Stockholm, Sweden, on Apr. 5, 2013. The Civil Rights Defenders plan to distribute 50 more by the end of 2014. Currently, those who qualify for receiving these bracelets “will to a large extent be individuals from the most repressive societies in the world, and within our existing networks,” according to Natasha Jevtic Esbj?rnson, Head of Communications at Civil Rights Defenders. “We would like all human rights defenders at risk to have this alarm, but it costs a lot both for the alarm itself and to build an organization to respond to the alarms, to train the wearers of the alarm and to develop the individualized security protocols. Building a security program around each individual, matched to the specific needs of that person, is a complex process. Needless to say, it takes a lot of time and effort to get an alarm up and running to ensure maximum protection 24/7, 365 days a year.”

Though the Civil Rights Defenders is an independent non-governmental expert organization, they do receive the support for their international work through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.The potential for this bracelet to prevent kidnapping of regular children and citizens, if made available to the public, will also be endless.

At the end of the day, security measures are put in place to prevent crime from occurring or worsening. By utilizing different existing technologies and products, users aim to create a safer environment in everyday life. For instance, the tragic death of an Indian female medical school student after being brutally raped in New Delhi last year raised angry outcries. A group of three engineering students decided to take matters into their own hands and invented a rape prevention device, designed to be in undergarments of wearers, called the Society Harnessing Equipment(SHE). The device issues an electric shock to ward off the attacker and sends a text message and GPS location of the victim to her family members and local police. Though still in its prototype stage, the SHE isi viewed as a promising tool to decrease the chances of rape. Crime prevention is no longer the responsibility of the government or dedicated organizations, but everyday civilians as well.

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