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.
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.