x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Saaed keeps tabs on Abu Dhabi traffic

One of the world's most technologically advanced police stations monitors traffic accidents and officers' response times in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // On a small stretch of road in Khalifa City A sits a block of four villas housing one of the world's most technologically advanced police stations.

In what was once the living room of one of the villas, seven uniformed Saaed officers stare at computer screens and murmur into wireless headsets.

On the wall, a 52-inch screen shows a map of the capital. Icons move in real time as green Saaed cars wend their way through the streets.

Then, another icon appears - on Airport Road, near 15th Street - a red "i", indicating an accident. In seconds, it switches to "E08", the accident number assigned to it.

The dispatcher looks at the map; the nearest officer is at the junction of Al Saada and Karama Street. One call, and the icon representing his car turns from green to red and "E08" appears above it. The officer has acknowledged the call and is on his way.

Watching all this is Raed Moneef Hamdan who helped design the unique command and control centre system.

"When we designed the system we wanted the status of the incidents to be graphics," he said. "It makes it easier for the dispatcher to manage the fleet and manage the incidents."

He insists it is no mere flashy toy. It maintains a record of the number of accidents and each officer's response times. Supervisors can instantly know how well each of his subordinates is meeting the mandated 30-minute response time for accidents. Daily and monthly reports are sent to each officer, and supervisors use the information for evaluations.

The system also records the number of incidents every hour of the day in any given month. "This helps us to manage the fleet and distribute our forces in a scientific way," said Mr Hamdan.

According to Ibrahim Yousef Ramel, Saaed's chief executive, the software is the first of its kind. "It is more advanced than anything the Abu Dhabi Police or even Dubai Police have," he said. "European Police commissioners said the same, telling me that they were thinking of building a replica of this in coming years."

There are currently about 200 Saaed officers patrolling Abu Dhabi, as well as officers in Al Ain, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Qawain. There are plans to expand to the other Northern Emirates "soon", said Mr Hamdan, although Dubai will continue to provide its own police services.

Saaed was created in 2008 to take the burden of dealing with minor accidents off Abu Dhabi Police. The police were struggling to keep pace with 20 per cent annual increases in new car registrations, and 11 to 12 per cent increases in the number of new drivers on the road.

"The police decided that if they privatised the response to minor accidents to a company, then it could achieve all objectives," says Mr Ramel. Since its introduction, minor accident response times have improved "and police are happier".

He is quick to clarify, however, that although Saaed is treated as a private company and not a government department, it remains owned by the police.

While most officers are Emirati, there are some of other Gulf nationalities and others with one Emirati parent.

In the future, the company plans to upgrade the system to monitor traffic patterns, and try to predict traffic jams. "What we are thinking is what all traffic experts are thinking," said Mr Ramel.

"How do you detect and predict traffic incidents and avoid any consequential damage from traffic or accidents?"

smclain@thenational.ae