These are initial thoughts on how systems theory can be applied to tackling the rampant insecurity situation in Kenya, particularly petty crimes in urban centres.
1. REGISTRATION OF PERSONS: Introduce a single electronic ID, linked to a single registration of persons database, for all Kenyans over 18 years of age (and an electronic birth certificate for those under 18 years). This ID will be used for registration anywhere in the country, whether it is universities and colleges, opening bank accounts, accessing government services, registering businesses, seeking employment, leasing rental, virtually everything.
2. HOUSING: Introduce a buildings/ premises/ residential registration law requiring all buildings, classified under different categories to register with a single institution/database. Everybody in Kenya, when they rent a house or an office building, will be required to register with this body. This means that a government agency can check in real time the current residence of anybody so long as they are in possession of their electronic ID. All landlords will be required to update the details of their tenants once every month and not more than 3 days after a tenant moves houses. The new landlord must register a new tenant using the same ID. In the database, it will show that person X moved from house A to house B. All persons, over 18, without the ability to rent a house, will be required to register with the same government agency as homeless people, state their current place of staying. These are the people who will be automatically eligible for public housing schemes. Once a person is able to rent their own house, the Landlords entry of their ID as a tenant automatically removes them from the homeless list. Every three months, the government will review the database to determine whether landlords, particularly those in cities and towns, have updated their details and those of their tenants, and a big fine will be imposed on noncompliance.
3. TRANSPORT: Develop “closed” public transportation systems, such as transit hubs or intermodal transit hubs, where everybody buys tickets at the electronic counters, with the only requirements being the electronic ID and money (cash, card, mobile). Like in developed countries, this ticket is what is used to gain entry to the gates to the boarding platforms (for trains, buses, tram, airports etc). All stations across the country, will be required to install these electronic counters. In places without electricity, battery operated hand-held receipting technologies should be used, even as the governments invests to ensure all regions in Kenya are connected to the electric grid. All these information will again be held in a single government database for the transport ministry. Instead of expanding the existing roads, I’ll suggest connecting all major towns in Kenya through rail, and standardize transportation scheduling, both for passenger and freight, across the country. Even personal cars, when getting to main roads, must be identified.
4. TRADE: In addition to upgrading regulations in trade (and finance & banking – this needs a bigger space as it relates to corruption and transacting criminal proceeds). Create a new law governing the sale of second-hand goods. The dealers of second hand-goods must be specifically registered with a specific agency under the ministry of trade. All persons selling to the second-hand stores must be issued with a receipt that has electronically captured their ID and what they sold. When we make it extremely difficult to sell to second-hand stores while also requiring that the person disposing off the good must be registered, we will be targeting the supply chain for stolen goods. You can steal but have nowhere to sell, even as new technologies come up that make it difficult to erase identifiers in gargets, especially with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoTs). To buy a second hand good, one would need to go to a second-hand store, not buy from another person directly.
5. LAW ENFORCEMENT: Create a professional law enforcement agency. There are too many parts to this, but the core of it is creating a professional police service in every sense of the word. And a functional criminal justice system.
6. EDUCATION: To tackle the root of all forms of insecurity, introduce knowledge on all types of crimes in the school curriculum from primary, secondary, and tertiary, so that children grow knowing what criminal acts entail and their associated punishments. This is, of course, in addition to a curriculum that do not render people too poor to survive in the future.
7. I have only tackled registration of persons, housing, transportation, trade, police training,criminal justice system, education, etc and there are many more, but as you can see, eliminating insecurity is not about just employing more policemen or giving them bigger guns, but rather creating a system where the risks of crime far outweigh the rewards of it. You steal in place A, CCTV cameras pick your face, feeds it to all the systems, you buy a ticket to get into a public transportation system, the system sends signals. You are arrested either in the train/bus/car or when you alight at the next station, or when you get home, or you’ll be forced to be a fugitive. As it happens now, person A steals in Street A, runs to street B 10 metres away and just like that he has escaped punishment. And even if he/she escapes, there is the other question of where to dispose it off. All these increase the risks. All these developments will create thousands, if not millions of jobs, and deal with the reason why people steal in the first place, while simultaneously enhancing public safety.
Our problem today is that there is a system breakdown/ dysfunction. If those systems work, we’ll have less people feeling that the rewards of petty crime far outweigh the risks, leading to less people on the streets losing their property.
The biggest advantage, however, will be on the wealth of information in those databases which can be analyzed using big data tools to aid in policy making and developing a culture of constant improvement of the lives of Kenyans.