Mexican police are increasingly going high-tech, with the country focusing on information technology to curb crime and keep track of criminals.
Central to technology use for security needs is the country’s police intelligence center built in 2009. The center sifts through the chunks of data supplied by police stations across the country.
To support the center, the government also launched several programs to gather data. Chief among them are the national cell phone registry, which helps authorities respond to kidnappings and extortion calls; an identity card featuring biometric data, which is designed to protect people from identity theft and fraud; and a national automobile registry, which is aimed at fighting car thefts, kidnappings, and drug trafficking through the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.
The efforts are paying off. In a report issued last year, the Institute for Economics and Peace said it found crime rate declining in Mexico. Importantly, the survey strongly suggested that Mexico has experienced a nationwide drop in homicides since 2012.
The inherent uncertainty of technology-based state surveillance programs ensures that civic involvement in the work of crime control will remain critical to the shape of security governance in the future
Keith Guzik, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver, says civilian involvement will be critical to the success of technology Mexican police are using to fight crime. Guzik has written a book on how Mexican security forces are adopting new technology.
“The inherent uncertainty of technology-based state surveillance programs ensures that civic involvement in the work of crime control will remain critical to the shape of security governance in the future,” Guzik writes.
Tagging is a rapidly growing industry across the world. Even Bolivia has made RFID chips mandatory on every car, and the government is having gas stations read those tags. Reports say Bolivia identified 12,000 vehicles using illegal duplicate plates through this method.
In India, biometric identity cards are helping the government save millions of dollars in subsidy. Having a biometric card is mandatory to avail several of the government’s services.
In the United States, the FBI is using such surveillance technologies to track suspected criminals as they move from one location to another.
It’s safe to say that with these initiatives, Mexico is on track to experiencing the same level of success that they achieve elsewhere, as long as the population warms up to them through the benefits that they clearly provide.