Technology and citizen participation are transforming public safety in Latin America

Public safety study conducted by the University of Santiago, Chile and supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation identifies the most innovative and effective public safety practices in Latin America 

  • Twenty-six experts participated in study analyzing public safety policies in eight countries
  • Use of social networks to report crime is increasing citizen participation and inclusion
  • New technology is improving public safety

SANTIAGO, Chile Oct. 29, 2015 – A new study from the University of Santiago, Chile  and supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation assessing public safety in Latin America has found that technology and citizen participation are transforming public safety.
The study, “Technological Innovation for Public Safety in Latin America: Situation and Innovation in Public Policies” identifies positive changes following modernization and investment, mainly in public safety technology, combined with increasing citizen participation in crime prevention and timely alerts in case of emergencies.
The first part of the research included assessing the general public safety situation, and the second part focused on identifying the most innovative and effective practices implemented in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Peru.
For example, in Canoas, Brazil, the installation of surveillance cameras on public streets and weapon detection sensors successfully reduced the homicide rate by almost 50 percent during the last years.
“New technologies are being used to coordinate response efforts and allow family and friends to connect more quickly,” said Lucía Dammert, associated professor of the humanities department at the University of Santiago, Chile. “In particular, the study found a growing awareness of public safety LTE technology for emergency communications. Some countries, such as Panama, Brazil and Chile, have already defined dedicated spectrum for this technology with a focus on public protection and disaster management.”
Dammert added, “We’re seeing a growing use of technology to minimize the consequences of emergency situations caused by natural disasters. Some major consequences include a lack of basic supplies and anxiety produced by uncertainty and misinformation.”
The growing use of technology has exposed the need for better information systems and greater intra- and inter-institutional coordination. It also highlighted the importance of providing training for the different public safety agencies to capitalize on the use of new technological tools and resources, and suggested that citizen participation is more efficient when it is supported by integrated management practices and new technologies.
Although the region is equipped with a series of early alert systems, opportunities exist to further reduce vulnerabilities. The study shows that natural disasters increase the probability of violent social conflict by 30 percent. From all kinds of natural disasters, floods were responsible for the most casualties in the region between 2000 and 2013 (5,685), and earthquakes caused the most economic damage. During the same period, the economic impact of natural disasters to South America was $31 billion.
This study recommended that public policies be flexible enough to respond to new crime dynamics and incorporate new technologies. It also detected the need for greater response coordination between different emergency and safety organizations. At the same time, it found that larger investments in technological innovations are required in order to bolster their use in public safety. Constant monitoring and evaluation of the implementation and impact of these initiatives is also needed.
The study contributes to information sharing and the dissemination of the most innovative prevention, crime control and emergency response practices in Latin America.

An executive summary of the study can be downloaded here, or watch the following video presenting the study.

Media Contact:
Gina Paola Acosta N.
Communications Manager for Latin America
Motorola Solutions
O: + 571-6022111|
M: +57 3108806688

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