Electronic Neighbour Watch


The Electronic Neighbourhood Watch System


Electronic Neighbourhood Watch System (ENWS) will extend private household electronic surveillance techniques to help protect community resources and to assist the frail and elderly in a community. The principal objective is to leverage private investment for community advantage by setting up a not for profit organisation to coordinate and foster neighbourhood electronic community cooperation.

The normal model for both private residence and community facilities surveillance relies upon commercial or police back-to-base alerts. This approach provides individual property protection without the involvement of other members of the community.

ENWS offers an alternative, using much the same equipment as the current model in conjunction with Neighbourhood Watch-style community participation. The system will enhance the value of private surveillance to the owner through the active cooperation of other members while at the same time reducing the cost and demand on community resources such as police and aged home health services. Side benefits are the enhanced community involvement and building of social capital.


The System


With ENWS, photographic alerts are first sent to the owner and to nominated, active neighbours. After a review of images by members of the community, necessary authorities or private security services may be alerted but only in those situations that warrant extra assistance. As part of their involvement in the system, members of ENWS will also volunteer time to participate in monitoring local community facilities and assist in the monitoring of alerts for the frail and elderly.


The concept can be applied to any community, be it rural, urban or suburban, but it does require some form of high speed internet connection.

It is the intention to start ENWS in Gunghalin and within 12 months to extend it across the ACT. To become self sufficient it is expected require Australia wide deployment. This will be achieved in the second 12 months of operation.



The outcomes of the project will be

  • An organisation that can coordinate and assist community groups organise neighbourhood electronic surveillance.
  • An understanding of how private electronic surveillance can be extended so that the community can work together to protect itself
  • Methods for introducing community facilities surveillance that leverage individual private surveillance systems
  • Methods of integrating home watch facilities into the private home security systems


Surveillance and monitoring systems for individual houses depend on human interpretation of potential breaches of security. A home security system typically alerts a human to investigate possible breaches. In the proposed system, clusters of neighbours will cooperate by interpreting these breaches on each other’s behalf. How this will be achieved is more a social and organisational issue than a technical problem and is the focus of this project.

The technologies of surveillance are well known and are affordable for many private residences. Extending the use and effectiveness hardware technology into a community setting and in particular, including community physical resources such as public buildings and spaces is a more difficult problem that may only be determined through pilot programs designed to discover whether people are willing to fully participate.

The ENWS model will build upon and extend concepts already in use in the UK (such as through the “AlertBox” scheme) to provide assistance for frail and aged residents. That is Alert Box could be a subset of the Electronic Neighbourhood Watch.

Funds are being sought to seed fund a not-for-profit organisation that will build an infrastructure that can be extended throughout Australia via organic growth. Ongoing funds will be obtained from private subscribers who will pay $100 a year to be part of the scheme and from cooperation with other groups in the community who can leverage off private surveillance. As part of their involvement in the scheme, participants will also be required to help watch neighbours, community facilities and the disadvantaged in the community.

The project will employ a full time executive to build the business. The board of the organisation will initially consist of a sub-committee of the Gungahlin Community Council. After six months a separate not for profit organisation ENWS will be established which will take over the governance role for ENWS. The board will be elected from paying subscribers to ENWS who are automatically members of ENWS.

Who will benefit

Through helping protect community property all members will benefit. The aged and frail will also benefit when the system is extended to include these members through such schemes as an Alert Box arrangement.


The system envisaged is based on the next generation of home surveillance and will initially be built around the technology developed in Canberra by Video Alert. The Business Plan for this organization is attached.

The Internet Infrastructure for the membership system will initially use technology developed by the Canberra Based Company Edentiti Pty Ltd which is also involved in a proposal to introduce community based Water Sustainability Systems to Gungahlin.

How to change to a 100% Greenhouse Gas Free Economy

In 2006 it appears as though the global warming message is finally making some headway in Australia. Every other day mainstream media leads with cautionary tales that project the consequences of unchanged behaviour, while at the same time politicians are falling over themselves to announce the latest climate-friendly policies.

The need for cleaner, greener power is no longer debatable. Instead the issue has become how to make the switch. Given embracing renewable energies will require a massive investment in infrastructure, the major question for Australia (and the world) is one of funding.

The fundamental problem is that relying on traditional energy market forces to provide the necessary investment will not work, because the infrastructure for energy from renewable resources costs more than the infrastructure required for the burning of fossil fuel. This is because energy from fossil fuels requires less capital to establish while the running costs are about the same or similar to the major renewable alternatives such as wind, solar, or geothermal plants.

The other reason is that the infrastructure of petrol stations, cars, power stations and electricity grids all exist and are tuned to the burning of fossil fuels. Obtaining the required investment to shift to fuels that produce less greenhouse gases is a massive task.

Let us make the assumption that we have no choice and we must change. Who is to finance such a change and who is going to own the infrastructure that is created? At present the thinking is that funding will come from general taxation and/or a carbon tax, while ownership of infrastructure will be left to those organizations that can persuade governments that they have worthwhile projects. Neither of these approaches is viable for the enormous investment required. The first because people are loathe to pay taxes and the second because markets are better than edicts at picking winners.

Instead, the funds required should come from the users of all products that generate greenhouse gases as a by-product and who cause the problem. There are numerous sources of greenhouse gases that are not yet held accountable for their contributions to the global warming problem. For example, the 2003 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory by the National Greenhouse Office reported that Australia’s livestock industries accounted for 12% of the net national greenhouse gas emissions. It is time for everyone playing a role in greenhouse gas production to work towards solving the issue.

Similarly, ownership of the infrastructure could belong to those organizations and people who supply the funds. Thus instead of creating a tax on carbon let us include a fee within the overall product price that reflects the cost of the greenhouse gas emissions generated. Let’s make it mandatory that every carbon emitting product or service sold on the market be bundled with a Greenhouse Rehabilitation Investment (GRI) as part of the overall purchase price. GRIs will quickly be dispersed into the broader population, as consumers acquire GRIs with almost every energy purchase.

Note that GRIs could be substituted with Carbon Credits by extending the definition and meaning of Carbon Credits. GRIs have been used to try to make sure the ideas expressed here are not coloured by the understanding, meaning and use of Carbon Credits.

Greenhouse Rehabilitation Investments

A form of investment bond, the GRIs are special funds that can generate financial returns for owners, but may only be used to invest in processes that reduce greenhouse gas or that generate energy without greenhouse gas emissions. As GRIs accumulate among the population, Australia will create a ready source of investment funds at the same time as fostering a market for technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Given that the GRI approach will work, the next step is to establish how long we have to reduce emissions (and perhaps even take greenhouse gases from the atmosphere). Once this has been determined, we then have to work out how much investment is required to achieve the goal for Australia.

Australians consumer about 70,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per person per year. For simplicity but to get an idea of the magnitude of the problem let us assume that all energy is electrical energy.

The present per person production and capital costs to produce this amount of electrical energy equates to approximately $3,500 or 5 cents per kWh. Governments, through GST, resource taxes, profit taxes and land taxes collect at least 5 cents per kWh in taxes. There is a further cost of distribution and profit for energy retailers. Let us either use existing taxes or add 5 cents per kWh to the cost of energy. This money should then be given back to the energy consumer as a GRI voucher, with the restriction that the GRI may only be spent as an investment in renewable energy infrastructure.

Rather than the consumption tax proposed under current thinking, the GRIs become a compulsory investment savings scheme, not unlike Australia’s superannuation scheme. Let us make this $3,500 per year per person which equates to approximately $70 billion per year which would be available immediately for investment in renewable energy. The GRI charge placed on products or services would be calculated in terms of carbon emissions and would increase over time so as to keep the total investment dollars available for renewables and to accelerate the rate of change to clean coal technologies.

How can we investment GRIs

The following are very rough estimates but give the scale of the solution.

PacHydro estimates it will cost $600 million to build a 200 megawatt geothermal power station. If this operated for a full year at 80 per cent capacity, the capital cost to produce a watt would be approximately $3.75. Thus the capital to produce 70,000kwh over one year can be expressed as:

Capital cost = (total kWh / the number of hours in the year) x cost per kW

In the case of PacHydro, this equation works out to be approximately $30,000 or 8.5 years at $3,500 per year.

The cost of wind power is less per kilowatt than geothermal sources, but wind stations average only 40% capacity. Using the above equation, this means the capital cost to produce 70,000 kWh is roughly $40,000 or 11 years.

The cost of the Victorian Solar Power Station is $450 million for a capacity of 154 megawatts. However, because solar only runs for one third of the time, this gives a capital cost of $80,000 or 22 years.

The other way to generate green power is to burn coal cleanly, using ways that remove carbon before it gets to the atmosphere. This technology is likely to double the cost of coal fired power stations. If retrofitted to existing stations, the cost is likely to be $100 million per 100 megawatts, equating to a $10,000 investment per person, which would be paid in about three years.

Investment in Solar Hot Water systems gives a return of about four years.

Given that through GRIs there will be massive amounts of funds seeking investment opportunities, it is inevitable that the market will respond, creating schemes and technologies offering some form of return, particularly if the GRIs do not earn interest making it in the best interests of owners of GRIs to invest now rather than wait for greater returns in the future.

But isn’t this just another tax?

The point about the proposal is that it is NOT a tax but it is tagged money that has to be used for a particular purpose. The GRIs can be sold on the open market and it is expected that there will be a ready market where people will buy the GRIs at a discount. Companies that want to be seen to be green will allow GRIs to be used to purchase other goods. For example, airlines like Virgin and Qantas will permit the use of GRIs to purchase airline tickets as a promotional tool. We can also expect the government to purchase GRIs directly from pensioners and others who would find the extra cost of energy too high.

Sooner or later GRIs have to be spent on investing in greenhouse abatement measures so it does not matter that they can be treated like a currency but without any interest for saving them.

The system means that consumers who did not want to bother with investing in renewables could get up to 100% value from the GRIs that they had to purchase.

Won’t it Cost too much?

Modern technology means that the cost of administering the system will be low. It can be expected that the total cost will be less than 0.5% turnover.

Immediate and acceptable

This approach is likely to be politically acceptable and will achieve the desired result – a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions at the same time as funding a renewable energy infrastructure. It can be implemented immediately. It will not have dire economic consequences and in fact is likely to bolster market activity, as the money from GRIs will be invested locally and will lead to technologies that can be sold to other countries.

The system can be easily tuned by changing the size of GRIs charged for each ton of greenhouse gas emitted. The figures we have used are likely to add an average 30 per cent to the cost of all energy that produces greenhouse gases as a byproduct.

Investment in replacement technologies will be market driven not ideologically driven as people will tend to invest in the technologies that give the best economic return.

The direct economic effect will be the difference in the economic value of greenhouse abatement technologies versus investment in other areas. This will be substantial but given the assumption that we have no choice, it is something we have to do.

The Edentiti Approach to Health Records

In the article “The Edentiti Difference ” we explain the underlying approach to the management of information across disparate databases. Edentiti espouses the view that it is not necessary to have centralised databases for many applications such as tax, health, or identification. Instead of building centralised repositories of information kept in other places we advocate an organisation based on permissions. Using this approach we can start immediately on building a health database system which will be privacy friendly, will satisfy the need to make all an individual’s health records available when needed and will be self funding.

The Paradigm for Ehealth

The CSIRO is working on a Federated system for building an Ehealth network of cooperating health databases. The intention is to establish a directory that enables health providers to access the network as and when required. The directory will be “owned” and controlled by the government.

The Edentiti approach works in the same way as the CSIRO system with one important difference. Instead of the directory being “owned” and controlled by the government the directory for each individual person is owned and controlled by the individual.

This simple change to the paradigm means that it is easy to overcome privacy issues – because the individual always gives permission to allow access – the data base will be more reliable because every individual will have an interest and will have control over the access rights and so will tend to check that the data is correct and is about them, and the cost will be lower because health providers can use the system to interact with individuals and so will be prepared to cover the cost of maintenance of the directory.

The advantages to health providers are:

Online Registration – Clients can register for appointments and order tests or goods through the system. Appointments can be scheduled and confirmed.

Storage of tests – many health providers conduct tests but do not want to take responsibility for the storage of the test results. They can pass the test results over to the individual in the knowledge that they can access the test results as needed.

Contact with Clients – Keeping contact details up to date is always an issue for health providers. The system will provide an up-to-date facility for contacting clients.

Payments – The system can be used to collect payments from clients

Advertising and Promotions – there can be optin advertising and promotional opportunities which are not available to government run systems which will help pay for the directory service.


Implementation of the system can be organic and incremental. Health providers can join as they see fit and there will be minor changes to their systems in order to participate in the scheme. As there is a positive benefit to health providers in moving to the system they will tend to move their records quickly. The system will also operate at all levels of the health care system and it can be integrated with other services such as alternative medicines, health and sporting facilities, and other areas of information that are important to a person’s health.