Neighbourhood Watch (also known as Block Watch and Community Watch) is a program designed to reduce the threat of crime to neighbours and property. This program encourages all residents to be alert to suspicious persons or vehicles and to notify each other quickly via web-based tools. The more people that are members, the more neighbours there are looking out for each other.
Neighbourhood Protect is a free web-based administration and communication tool for neighbourhood watches in Canada. All posts on the website are anonymous.
Unlike some social media groups that are closed and prevent the sharing of information amongst other neighbourhoods and police, Neighbourhood Protect expands on the idea of neighbourhood watch by joining multiple neighbourhood watches together through one central database. Just as it is beneficial for neighbours to join a neighbourhood watch, it is also beneficial for individual neighbourhood watches to join together to form a larger regional watch since some criminals travel by bike or car and can affect more than one neighbourhood or city.
Neighbourhood watches that don`t share information with the police are only half as effective. Social media neighbourhood watches tend to have a lot of opinion posts and general community posts which distract and clutter the crime posts. Police do not have the time to read through dozens of posts to find the meaningful ones. Neigbourhood Protect eliminates this clutter and streamlines the data for the police.
Simplified captain involvement:
- No large canvassing - referral system instead
- No member sheets to maintain - online sign-up form and database manage all administrative tasks
- Reduced need to screen/review posts - social/community posts not allowed, only crime/suspicious incidents posts permitted
- No need to phone/email members of new posts - website sends automated emails
- No need to notify police of posts - officers can also receive automated emails
- Meetings are optional - website manages all communication
Neighbourhood Protect requires very little effort on the part of its members; just look out for each other`s property and report a possible crime and let your immediate neighbours know about your neighbourhood watch. There is no patrolling, big canvassing, time consuming meetings etc. This is to make your life safer and easier, not more complicated.
Houses vs Apartments/Condos
House owners would benefit most from neighbhourhood watch. They can install security cameras, share images, and likely other house owners in the area could be affected by the same perpetrator. Apartment/condo residents do not have their own security cameras; that is usually handled by the building management, and they typically do not share video images with tenants. It would be best for building management to join. If you live in an area with higher street crimes such as robberies, firearms and drugs, then being part of a neighbourhood watch could still be beneficial. Smartphone photos can still be uploaded and shared.Functionality
No matter where you live, see what`s happening in your neighbourhood with crime data provided by your local police service. Neighbourhood Protect integrates seamlessly with all police service crime maps regardless of which technology they use.
Neighbourhood Protect provides real-time crime information by:
- The above mentioned police crime maps
- Live Twitter/RSS feeds from your local police
- Instant email/text notifications from member postings
This website is a tool specific to supporting neighbourhood watch programs by:
- Empowers residents to be proactive about their neighbourhood safety
- No minimum number of members to form a neighbourhood watch but at least 4 to 5 to have something effective
- Maintain membership lists in a confidential manner
- Members maintain their own information, not a captain
- Supports residential, cottage and commercial neighbourhoods
- Does not replace existing neighbourhood watches, merely automates them
- Post events of a criminal or suspicious incident
- Posts are anonymous - your name will not be displayed
- Upload photos of suspects or suspicious vehicles
- Supports the concept of a neighbourhood captain and traditional neighbourhood watches
- Simplification of the traditional neighbourhood watch program through automation
- Accessable to everyone with a computer/smartphone Over And Above Social Media
- Automatic email or text message notifications of new posts
- New member sign-ups are done via a referral system instead of large door-to-door canvasing
- Supports an infinite number of neighbourhoods
- The ability for neighbourhoods to share information across boundaries
- No closed groups preventing the sharing of crime information
- New neighbourhood watches are automatically visible to other neighbourhoods; never a need to manually search for new members
- Bicycle Registry - get your bike back quicker if it were stolen
- No association to social media
- RSS feeds to local police news bulletins
- Real-time police crime maps
- Structured in a way to minimize the possibility of using the website as a "soapbox" to rant
- Link to any neighbourhood watch as a liaison
- Post messages to any neighbourhood
- Accessable to everyone with a computer/smartphone Over And Above Social Media
- Quick access to member contact information including who has cameras if follow-up is required
- Concept of a Dashboard for a quick overview of all registered neighbourhood watches including other regions
- Any new neighbourhood watches automatically appear in the Dashboard
- Receive email notifications of any monitored neighbourhood watch
- Post messages to the home page for all neighbourhoods and visitors to see - country wide
- Neighbourhood posts have specific fields similar to RMS to capture meaningful data, not just a single Comment field
- Search/query tools for investigators not typically found in Facebook or other social media websites
- Easily see crime trends through advanced queries
- No closed groups preventing access to crime information
- Bicycle Registry - find the owner quicker if you recover a bicycle
- No association to social media
- RSS feeds to local police news bulletins and real-time police crime maps reduce the need to message neighbourhoods
Often crimes occur despite our best efforts to prevent them. Helping solve these crimes then becomes one of the main priorities to neighbourhood watch. Social media is just a large collection of blobs of text that must be manually searched through by investigators, making it potentially difficult for investigators and increasing the possibility of missing something important. Neighbourhood Protect has actual search tools for investigators to quickly and easily search for specific information and across many neighbourhoods, cities and regions thereby increasing the likelihood of solving a crime.
Note: This is not your police service`s official crime reporting tool. To report a crime, you must always contact your police service directly through one of their official contacts such as 9-1-1, or their non-emergency phone# or if they have on-line reporting, on their website. Neighbourhood Protect is strictly a search tool that the police can optionally use to help in their investigations; there is no guarantee that they will use this website for every crime reported.What Size Should A Neighbourhood Watch Be?
Regardless of which NW scheme you choose, boundary size should still be the same. The ideal size is the area that you would walk if you were to physically canvas your neighbours to join. This would be somewhere around 100 to 300 houses. This is a suggestion only. Smaller communities may choose to have one neighbourhood watch for the entire town to get enough people to participate.
Before the Internet, neighbourhood watches consisted of just your immediate neighbours, within a few blocks of each other (hence the term Block Captain). Most neighbours knew each other. If a crime happened to one of them, the rest lived close enough to likely have seen something. They had meetings on a regular basis with the police where only crime information was shared. Today, with social media, these groups have ballooned into often very large groups into the thousands, sometime exceeding 10,000 members. These types of groups rarely have members who know each other and their posts often include general community issues such as where to find a good plumber, landscaper, places to dine, dog walking etc. These extra posts usually prevent the police from joining these groups therefore any crime posts are more likely to not be shared with them. Neighbourhood Protect strives to maintain smaller groups and to make it easier to share information with the police.
Why is NW size so important?
- Manageability. Administration of <300 members is much easier than thousands of members.
- Several police services require 51% membership before they recognize your group as a NW . If your area is too large it would be difficult to reach 51% as well as determine this (2nd example - Point #3).
- Most physical neighbourhoods will see crime happen 3-6 times in one year. If your area is too large, people may report crimes several times a day making your group too busy.
- Members with cameras want to help and will check video if the crime is nearby. If people far away are posting every day, then members with cameras may stop checking video as it would become a full-time daily job.
- Value of information. Two crimes near each other are more likely to be committed by the same perpetrator than two crimes at opposite ends of town.
- Social media groups that are open to the entire town may become more of a generic news/chat group than a NW to a specific area.
- Information overload. Groups posting 10+ times a day are too busy for most working people to read and keep up with.
- Smaller groups have more precise posts that can assist police investigating a specific area.
- Refer neighbours. Tell about 5-6 of your neighbours. Optionally canvas if you like. You will need about 5-10 members to begin to have a successful watch.
- If something happens to your property or you observe a crime/suspicious activity, post it to the website to let your neighbours know and inform the police.
- If you receive a notification from another neighbour and you have security cameras, check your video and if something is found, tell the police and post that information on the website. If you check your video and find nothing and reside on the same street as the reported crime, post that nothing was seen on video near you.
- Just wait for something to happen. That`s it, fairly simple and easy.
- Periodically check the home page to see if there are any recent posts near your neighbourhood; check the All page for details.
- Periodically check the Maps page (if your police service has crime maps) to see if your police service is reporting any crimes near you.
- Check your cameras to see if there is anything suspicious related to the above; notify the police and post the image.
- If you recognize a vehicle or person reported on the website, notify the police service of where the crime occurred.
- Canvas some more neighbours to help grow your neighbourhood watch.
- If you have any suggestions on improving the website feel free to contact the administrator.