Keeping Our Communities Secure: Neighborhood Watch for the Digital Age
Everyone has the right to feel safe in their community. Whether you’ve got kids playing in the street, you walk to work or just want the general peace of mind of knowing your home and neighbourhood are safe, this is something everyone wants and deserves from their community. Unfortunately, this level of community safety is only a reality for a lucky few.
However, recent positive evidence suggests that crime in communities is falling. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show a 5.4% decrease in the number of violent crimes between the 2012 and 2013. This includes major crimes such as robbery, assault, rape and even murder. The reports also highlight an equal decrease in property crime including burglary and motor vehicle theft. All of these offenses are major concerns in many of America’s more dangerous communities.
These promising decreases in crime rates are likely due to a multitude of factors - including improved policing and crime prevention measures. There has also been an increase in the use of technology in crime prevention and law enforcement with the potential to dramatically improve security levels in our communities. This article will look at some of the technologies being adopted by communities and law enforcement agencies to improve our neighborhood safety.
Mapping Community Crime
Online crime mapping services have been created with the combined efforts of law enforcement data and community input in order to physically plot where crimes have taken place in our neighbourhoods - with data including the time, date, type and exact location of the crime that occurred. Websites like Spot Crime and Crime Mapping make invaluable resources for millions of Americans.
You can get involved by organising a community meeting and examining where the crime is in your community. By doing something as simple as looking for criminal hot spots, police, business owners and members of the public can increase security measures in these areas. Introducing CCTV, deterrent fencing, increased patrols and ensuring the area is well lit can make a dramatic difference - effectively eliminating crime in the area.
Increasing Criminal Conviction Rates
Many crimes go unpunished through lack of evidence - and whether they’re committed out of sight or prosecutors lack the physical evidence to build a solid case, criminals are getting off the hook. And, without the deterrent of being convicted of a crime, offenders are more likely to fearlessly engage in illegal activity - threatening our communities.
There has been a sharp increase in the use of CCTV cameras worldwide, with the UK leading the trend in recording criminal evidence. Current data estimates there is 1 CCTV camera for every 11 people, bringing the total number of cameras in the UK to 5.9 million - many of which protect communities, schools, hospitals and other public areas or buildings. However, these cameras are generally static, meaning they don’t always capture the evidence needed. The development of body-worn camera technology is proving to be a potentially valuable asset to law enforcement in particular. These micro CCTV systems are attached to the officer’s clothes, providing full documentation of evidence from the wearer’s point of view, essentially recording everything you see.
It is clear that crime prevention is becoming more reliant upon technology, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it will always be the combination of the human and technological element which ultimately makes our communities a safer place.
Posted by Adam Hope on Jul 16, 2014