National security wrap

The beat

‘911. Where’s your emergency?’

Apple wants to shorten the response times of emergency services. The iPhone’s next operating system will pinpoint the location of a 911 call, allowing the 6,300 emergency response centres around the US to quickly dispatch emergency services to the correct location. Mobile phones are used to make 80% of the 240 million emergency calls in the US each year. Emergency responders currently rely on the location of the cellular tower transmitting the call to pinpoint the caller’s location.

The future of policing

As drones become cheaper and more readily available, researchers and police around the world are developing new and innovative ways to use them. In California, the Huntington Beach Police Department intends to implement a pilot program to learn how drones could be used to assist police with traffic collision photography, tactical deployments involving SWAT, shark detection and missing persons searches. A University of Cambridge study has found that surveillance drones equipped with artificial intelligence software can accurately distinguish between potentially violent subjects and those simply moving normally within the crowd.

Making inroads

Warakurna, Western Australia, has welcomed the only entirely Indigenous-run police station in Australia. Since late 2017, the Warakurna Police Station has been staffed by two sworn Aboriginal officers who are using cultural ties to regain trust in the remote Aboriginal community.

CT scan

Rise of violent extremism in northern Mozambique

Britain issued a travel warning for northern Mozambique after the US embassy in Mozambique advised Americans to leave the area. Days later, US petroleum company Anadarko, which operates in northern Mozambique, put its staff on lockdown. The actions follow a recent attack on a village, only the latest in a string of beheadings and kidnappings attributed to Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamâ in the energy-rich region. Though it was initially unclear who and what was behind the attack, the growing consensus is that northern Mozambique is seeing a surge in violent Islamist extremism.

Degrading Islamic State’s illicit oil and gas network

Last week the US-led coalition in Syria said it had killed four IS members who had run the group’s Syrian oil and gas network. The deceased included Abu Khattab al-Iraqi, who led the operation. Oil was one of IS’s largest revenue sources until late 2016, earning the group between US$250 and $365 million per year. Because IS lost control of its oil fields, it’s unclear what effect these deaths will have on IS’s revenue. The coalition claims that the killings further disrupt IS’s access to reliable funding.


Kashmir in chaos

India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of the ruling coalition in the disputed border region of Jammu and Kashmir. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned following the regional government’s collapse. The BJP justified its move on the basis of rising terrorism, violence and radicalisation. However, analysts have argued that the move gives the central government broader authority to exert force in Kashmir which may help it secure votes in the 2019 elections. The UN released a report last week detailing allegations of excessive use of force by Indian security forces in Kashmir, the first by the UN about excessive violence in the disputed territory.

2018 UNODC smuggling report released

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime released its Global Study on the Smuggling of Migrants. The study claims that at least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled in 2016, and traces 30 major smuggling routes worldwide. Describing the routes, UNODC claimed that closing borders doesn’t stop smugglers. Increasing border security only increases the risk for migrants and could provide more opportunities for smugglers to profit.

Blockchain to block child trafficking

Moldova announced plans for a new digital identity project to combat child trafficking. Children attempting to cross the border would have their eyes or fingerprints scanned and verified against their digital identity registered on a blockchain and linked with other family members. US-based tech company ConsenSys, which won a UN challenge to use blockchain technology to combat child trafficking last year, will develop the system.

First responder

Building back better in the Caribbean

In international development practice, ‘build back better’ refers to the opportunity after a natural disaster to both build more resilient infrastructure and empower local populations to improve disaster management. The World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery have published a report analysing the effects of building back better in Caribbean countries following the 2017 hurricanes. The report highlights the importance of ‘inclusive recovery’—ensuring ‘that the poorest and the most vulnerable’ such as women, children and those living to poverty—can also rebuild.

And supporting sustainable cities in the Caribbean 

Environmental security threats aren’t the only challenge in the Caribbean. Urbanisation also poses a threat. The Jamaica Observer reminds readers that cities also need to be resilient to social change. By 2030, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. How we think about urban planning and cities’ resources and systems needs to evolve alongside, and arguably ahead of, such changes. The article suggests that policymakers must consider environmental challenges, the needs of the most vulnerable and local economic development and job creation.