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Sunday, Feb 25, 2024

Police want $5.2b for talking

Police want $5.2b for talking

The police force proposes to spend HK$5.8 billion on advanced technology, with HK$5.2 billion for a 5G system for communications between officers.
The proposal was submitted by the Security Bureau to the Legislative Council yesterday.

That will be a great leap forward from the existing Terrestrial Trunked Radio system, in which frontline officers can only report verbally their observations to command centers.

"Although TETRA has been providing secure and reliable voice communication services, it is constrained by its narrow bandwidth," the force said.

"[Officers] are unable to send real-time information in the forms of audio, video and image, causing information [from] a scene to be fragmented at times."

The force said it is a global trend to replace TETRA technology with mobile broadband, citing examples from the mainland and elsewhere.

And as the development of 5G service is now "mature" the force is asking to build a next generation communications system to "improve the operational efficiency of policing and emergency services, address national security needs and reduce the potential risks associated with geopolitical tensions."

The proposal is to adopt a hybrid model with infrastructure developed using public funds complemented by commercial services.

Legislative Council member Jimmy Ng Wing-ka, vice-chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Council, backed the idea of the new system and said he is not worried about privacy concerns.

"There is clear guideline in the force on when [cameras] can be turned on and when they must be off," he said. "Officers will announce they are videotaping, and people will know when they are being recorded."

The force is also seeking to spend HK$390 million on a new centralized digital image platform to store footage officers record and obtain during evidence collection.

The third part of the budget is used to establish a HK$190-million computer system to guard against doxxing of officers.

The force said the existing personnel information communal system was launched in 2013 to manage human resources records of some 36,000, auxiliary and civilian officers.

"During the serious violence in 2019 there were breaches of personal data of police officers and family members," the paper noted.

"United States sanctions against the force have caused the provider of the [current] system to put the renewal of its service contract with the force on hold."

The force now seeks to develop a third generation of the database using artificial intelligence.

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