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World GIS Day: can mapping murder keep it from happening?

Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2020. 2:26 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: As it has for the past few years, Total Business Solutions Limited, the leader in geographic information systems (GIS)’ distribution and use in Belize, hosted its partners and stakeholders on World GIS Day.

Presenters hailed from the productive sector (Belize Sugar Industries); public utilities (Belize Electricity Limited and Belize Water Services Limited); and the Government itself (Belize Crime Observatory, Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute and Statistical Institute of Belize). The special guest was Cecille Blake, Statistics Division, Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) Secretariat, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations.

Adele Ramos, former journalist and currently the technical coordinator for the Crime Observatory, presented on “Supporting evidence-based decisions and policies to improve public safety.” She has been consistently covering the crime problem, especially in Belize City, dating back to her time with the Amandala newspaper, and was one of the first journalists to embrace GIS use in physically documenting the Old Capital’s spheres of crime and particularly murder.

Ramos reports that by official statistics, Belize reports just 82 murders as of the end of October, a reduction of nearly a quarter, and is on track to finish below the century mark for the first time in seven years, if results hold.

As part of Belize’s National Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy for 2016 to 2019 and in line with the Horizon 2030 National Development Plan and UN Sustainable Development Goals, Belize’s minimum target is 10 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, which works out to about 40 murders per year assuming a population of 400,000.

Why has 2020 been different so far as the murder patterns? Part of it has to do with the success of the state of emergency regulations in place on Southside Belize City for much of the early period of the pandemic, says Ramos: “you notice where you had the murders occurring before the whole covid-19 measures went into effect and then from that point on to the end of June, there were only 2 murders in Belize City, so you saw a substantial shift in what was happening in Belize City.”

However, Ramos points out, Belize City remains the epicenter of murder, with 43 percent of homicides occurring here so far as opposed to 38 percent in the same period last year.

Residents of Corozal and Stann Creek Districts have seen a doubling in murders in those areas, as has the Cayo District. 

Information like this helps the Police Department and the new Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries plan crime-fighting strategies to keep the figures down.

We will have a more detailed look at the crime figures later on.



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