AS the city celebrated its 113th Charter Day Anniversary with the theme, “Getting Ready for the Future,” and as the city government forges ahead with its smart city program, one cannot avoid thinking about the real possibility of the No Contact Traffic Apprehension Policy (NCAP) being implemented here in the locality. Of course, this time hopefully, without the perceived problems encountered during its utilization in several local government units in Metro Manila as well as by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the reason why the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in its implementation.
But what exactly is NCAP all about? Well, in the website of MMDA, it defines NCAP simply as, “a policy that utilizes CCTV, digital cameras and/or other gadgets or technology to capture videos and images to apprehend vehicles violating traffic laws, rules and regulations.”
So NCAP is actually the use of existing technology to monitor and determine vehicles that violate traffic laws, rules and other regulations. By using technology such as Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) to monitor, observe and record erring motor vehicles along public roads, the government or agency concerned is provided with an effective tool to regulate traffic within their areas of jurisdiction without the burden of confronting the driver of the vehicle face to face.
Aside from this there are other perceived benefits to having an NCAP in the locality like encouraging motorists and driving discipline which from the viewpoint of traffic enforcement by authorities will always be a plus factor and certainly a positive development in traffic management.
What this means is that with NCAP around, a majority of motorists would likely be more careful and would exercise a bit more caution in traveling along the roads. Being extra careful and cautious in driving around would almost certainly translate into fewer car accidents and mishaps, and thus another plus factor for authorities in terms of road safety.
On the side of traffic enforcement, having the NCAP would obviously avoid confrontations of the violent nature between motorists and traffic enforcers considering that they won’t be seeing eye to eye during the occurrence of a traffic violation, and more importantly the opportunity for bribery at the street level by those caught violating traffic laws will be rendered obsolete.
There are other benefits that could be derived from the implementation of NCAP in the city, but the more important issue that has to be studied and perhaps given attention at the moment, is the fact that certain concerns and difficulties arose out of the implementation of NCAP in some cities in Metro Manila.
Some of the issues raised is that the policy by the MMDA enforcing NCAP is unconstitutional, which literally means not valid, or that existing laws do not yet allow the no contact apprehension of traffic violators, data privacy violation, or that fines and penalties are too excessive, and that innocent third persons are made liable for the traffic violation.
From these concerns raised we can firmly establish that a review is in order on how to effectively implement NCAP in the city without encountering similar problems now confronting cities that enforced the scheme. One thing is certain though, the NCAP is a step towards technological and digital modernization of any local government unit which aims to utilize artificial intelligence to its advantage.
Here in the city of Baguio and under the present administration, the locality is experiencing a renaissance of sorts in terms of technological modernization and integration and the concept of a smart city is slowly being achieved in almost all aspects of societal and governmental transactions and interaction.
So do we need NCAP in the city? Most certainly, since this would form an integral part of the smart mobility system that would be in place here in the locality in the near future. The city government would have to study the scheme closely, discard those it deems not suited for the purpose and fine tune the system to make it fit into the needs of the locality.
At the moment of course we have to await the decision of the Supreme Court on the petitions filed questioning the legality and appropriateness in law of the NCAP.