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Smartphones: A New Crime Fighting Tool in El Salvador

I’ve been robbed several times at gunpoint. I have friends who have been kidnapped. For anyone who lives or comes from Latin America, as I do, safety is a concern.

This is particularly true in El Salvador where a 2010 Latinobarómetro poll revealed that 43 percent of respondents claimed violence as the principal problem facing their lives today, the third highest reported rate in the region. Citizens here take extra precautions to stay safe. In the metropolitan area of San Salvador, for example, many people live behind massive walls topped with barbed wire. When they go out, they leave their valuables at home.

Law enforcement agencies and municipal governments recognize the need to work together to prevent crime and in 2010, Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative helped launch the Seguridad Inalámbrica (Wireless Security) project in the municipality of Santa Tecla, near San Salvador, to increase public safety through the mapping and sharing of information between agencies.

In this program, participating law enforcement officers from the National Civilian Police (PNC) and Corps of Metropolitan Agents (CAM) use smartphones equipped with the easy-to-use Seguridad Inalámbrica software application for completing incident reports at a crime scene and then sending the reports from the smartphone via an advanced mobile broadband network to a crime database for real-time monitoring and analysis of crime patterns. The system allows law enforcement organizations and municipalities to work jointly on crime prevention strategies and analyze program effectiveness as measures are introduced.

Building on knowledge gained during the project’s first phase, we recently expanded the program to three additional municipalities and enhanced the system to include mobile and web-based applications that allow for even greater communication between law enforcement and municipalities. Officers can also now use the smartphone’s built-in camera, voice recorder, Global Positioning System (GPS) capability and other features to add multiple photos, voice recordings and more precise location information to crime reports.

During a recent event to announce the project’s expansion, I had the opportunity to meet two prominent mayors in the country, both of whom strongly support this program and had the privilege of speaking with many law enforcement officers who are enthusiastic about the program and are using the new technology as a crime-fighting tool.

Having been a victim of crime, it’s very rewarding for me to be part of a company that uses its technology to improve the welfare of people. I’m also very happy to see a small country like El Salvador so enthusiastically adopt advanced wireless technology with an aim of improving the nation’s security. I hope that other countries in the region will look to El Salvador as a model and explore the potential of this technology to help make the region a safer place to live.

For more information on Wireless Reach, please visit our website.

For more information on the Seguridad Inalámbrica (Wireless Security) project, please visit: here.

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