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Crime-fighting efforts have received another boost in the form of the island’s first Virtual Reference Station network (VRS), which features precise tracking capabilities that can assist in the policing of troubled areas.

Speaking at the launch and commissioning of the VRS, code-named gFIX.net, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on February 7, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, said the technology “will complement the arsenal of weapons and programmes at the disposal of our security forces to fight crime.”

He pointed out that programmes such as the child abduction alert system, Ananda Alert, and CrimeStop can benefit greatly from the capabilities of gFIX.net.

“When the system becomes available to the public, parents may want to utilize its tracking capabilities to ensure that their children are safe, and where they should be during and after school hours,” Mr. Pickersgill suggested.

In fact, the data gathered from gFIX.net will enable the authorities to examine the overall crime profiles and statistics of particular areas to enhance the policing of these areas.

“The technology is such that it can determine the precise location of a vehicle, person, or other asset to which it is attached and to record the position of the asset at regular intervals,” he explained.

Mr. Pickersgill also noted the benefits of this technology to agriculture, particularly for farmers who continue to be plagued by thieves. He said it will enable farmers and livestock owners to manage, monitor and label their produce correctly.

“It will also provide a location, security and anti-theft solution for livestock at risk of theft, or from natural hazards, such as drought, starvation or from other hazards due to their environment,” he added.

Furthermore, the Minister said he intended to utilize this technology to track the National Water Commission’s (NWC) infrastructure network, particularly with the resumption of the scrap metal trade.

Mr. Pickersgill noted that gFIX.net will enable the pinpointing of access to hospitals and emergency response services in communities across the island, and will reveal the ratio and proximity of educational institutions to the communities they serve, as well as identify areas where employment opportunities abound.

The network, which was established by Spatial Innovation Limited, at a cost of $33 million, provides a more accurate means of collecting and processing geo-spatial data, which is helpful to surveyors, developers, planners and government.

It is an integrated system of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which uses data from a network of fixed reference stations to model errors near surveying locations. This data, as well as a format correction message, is then relayed to a roving receiver, and used to improve the accuracy of reading in a particular area.

The gFIX.net comprises 13 high precision global navigation satellite systems, which are strategically placed across the island to facilitate the accurate collection of data.

It is useful in a wide array of operations which require high precision positional accuracy, such as: surveying; urban and municipal mapping; land information management and maintenance of the titling cadastres; the preparation of development plans, and the facilitation of the development approval process; road maintenance; navigation; vehicle location tracking; environmental management and community development; and hazard mitigation management.