Frequently Asked Questions
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Is My Privacy Protected?

Yes. All posts are anonymous. Only the police can see your contact information if they need to do some follow-up.

What is the history of Neighbourhood Protect?

The concept of neighbourhood watch started in 1972 in the USA. By the 1980`s Canadian neighbourhoods started implementing watches. Technology at the time was pen-and-paper sign-up lists. People had to physically canvas their neighbours and it was a very manual process of keeping residents informed of any crime trends. With the dawn of the internet, some neighbourhood watches took to social media to administer their watches. Although better than pen-and-paper, social media sites tend to have many posts not related to neighbourhood watch.

Neighbourhood Protect website started in 2016 in the Greater Toronto Area as a result of several cars being broken into. Neighbours spoke to some of their other neighbours but no one was sure who all had cameras or if cars on neighbouring streets were also entered. Facebook was considered but it was vague in finding nearby neighbourhood watches, if any, and ones that were found had a lot of other non-relevant content posted amongst actual neighbourhood watch posts. Developing a website specific to neighbourhood watch was the alternative. Neighbours are now much more organized and prepare video for police in a more timely manner.

The website is a neighbourhood watch administration tool. It is a private sector application like Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

Currently, Neighbourhood Protect serves Canadian residents only.

How To Start/Run A Neighbourhood Watch(NW)?

  1. Discuss the idea with some neighbours to see if there is any interest. If yes, continue, if no, stop. Neighbours must be willing to participate to have a successful NW.
  2. If yes, create an online group by either signing up to this website (preferably) or whatever social media you use. Your group size can be just your street or several blocks.
  3. Refer your neighbours to join your group. You may need to canvas a bit. Encourage your neighbours to do the same.
    • If you are using this website, it will automatically keep a list of members and who has security cameras.
    • If you are using social media, you may need to manually keep a list of members and who has cameras in case the police request this information.
  4. If you have secuirty cameras, it is very important that you learn how to use them.
    • You must be able to review video and download video.
    • Know the password to your system.
    • Having to contact your "tech" person wastes time if the police request video.
  5. Once you have an established group and you are using this website tell your local police so they can join.
    • Several police services have already joined Neighbourhood Protect and more continue to join.
    • Police rarely join social media groups due to the high volume of non-NW posts.
  6. If/when a crime happens to you, make a police report and post it to your NW group. Include images if you have video.
  7. When you receive a neighbour notification of a crime and you have video cameras, make the effort to review your video and post anything that you find.
  8. If you are using this website, police members will be kept up-to-date by receiving an email notification of any posts.
    • If you are using social media, you should contact your liaison officer directly everytime someone posts something of value.
    • NW groups are more effective if police are kept up-to-date.
  9. With the internet, NW meetings have become optional.
  10. If you find this website useful, tell friends and family members living elsewhere about it so they can join and form their own NW group.
Their is no patrolling and it is not recommended to engage a perpetrator as they could assault you. Safety is most important. There are also potential criminal and civil risks to engaging a perpetrator if a physical confrontation were to occur. We are simply eyes and ears for the police and for each other.

Is neighbourhood watch time consuming? What if I don't have time for this?

NW requires very little time. Typically, less than one hour for the entire year. Here is a break-down of time required for an average NW:

As you can see, participating in a NW only takes about 5 minutes to join and only a few minutes of your time to read the occassional posting. Even with cameras, you are not looking at a lot of time, less than one hour for the entire year. For captains, there are a few more minutes for the year.

Any chance to reduce crime also helps reduce the time to clean up and replace anything damaged or stolen. The few minutes it takes to participate in a NW is offset by the time saved in the reduction of crime.

If I/we already belong to a social media based neighbourhood watch group, why should we switch to this website?

Continue using your social media group for general community posts and focus the crime posts to Neighbourhood Protect. While social media works fairly well with individual neighbourhood watches (NWs), it does not automatically connect NWs together nor allow for the querying of the same criteria across multiple NWs at the same time.

Sometimes the only way to see if something is actually better is to try it. Sign up and compare the two. If you don`t see any benefits you can delete your account and resume with your old way of doing things.

Why does the website Sign-up page ask for Name, Address and Phone Along with Email?

Email is how the website usually communicates with its members. Name, address and phone number along with cameras potentially helps the police if they need to do follow-up in a neighbourhood. It allows them to quickly know who has cameras and where they live relative to the crime scene and then be able to contact those people if requied.

Can we still have a traditional neighbourhood watch with canvassing?

Yes. Neighbourhood Protect is only an administration and communication tool. How you use the tool is up to you. The Refer page has printable business card size forms that you can print off and hand out to neighbours. Instead of pen-and-paper sign-up forms, the website has a sign-up form that new members will use.

The website by default will make the first person to define a neighbourhood a captain. Captains have the ability to delete inappropriate posts.

How do we get neighbourhood signs and window stickers?

Contact your local police once you have an established NW. They will then help arrange for for signs and stickers or advise you of any other criteria that needs to be met first. Toronto no longer participates in NW signs, you will have to purchase them on your own.

Who maintains my profile information?

You alone do. No one else can edit your profile. Therefore, you are also responsible for updating your cell phone number if it changes or if you add cameras to your house/business.

If you move, update your neighbourhood information to the new neighbourhood.

How do I know what crimes are happening in nearby neighbourhoods?

The website provides police crime maps (if they exist from your police service) that you can view to get a quick overview. You can then view a list of all registered neighbhourhood watches to see what activity they have reported and any images they posted, sorted by date. Together, this will allow you to quickly get an idea of any criminals and suspicious vehicles that could come into your neighbourhood.

As other neighbours refer members how do I know who is all in my neighbourhood watch?

There is a member`s list page that provides name, street and if they have cameras. Contact information is private and for police follow-up only.

Can I view member lists in other neighbourhoods?

No. You can only view your neighbourhood member list. You can view any crime posts from any neighbourhood.

Is there a smartphone app?

No. Apps are specific to hardware (iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry, etc.) which requires separate development for each platform. Neighbourhood Protect is purely web-based which means it runs on any platform (iPhone, Mac, Android, PC, tablets, Blackberry, etc.). This website is frequently updated with new features which would require updating each app (if they existed) and delay these new features. Once you log into the website, it would function identically to an app so the only purpose to an app is to have an icon on your screen to click to log in.

Smartphone apps also have the ability to access your location, contacts and other features if you are not careful with permissions. A website cannot access any features on your phone, providing another potential level of security.
Example 1: These Hugely Popular Android Apps Have Been Committing Ad Fraud Behind Users` Backs
Example 2: Hackers to install spyware through an infected WhatsApp voice call - Android and iPhone

Are there any potential security/privacy issues with this website?

Any website has the potential for a hack. The most recent public one was with Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal where 87 million user accounts were accessed. Neighbourhood Protect only collects basic contact information as seen on the Sign-up Page. There is no other information collected about its users. This information has been publically available since the invention of the telephone and the phone book. With the internet, the phone book has become canada411.ca and 411.ca. Since this basic information is already publicly available, there would be nothing gained from hacking this website.

The 2019 LifeLabs cyberattack - about 15 million customers may have been breached.

In 2019 at least one Amazon Ring customer had their networked security camera hacked.

2019: Use a Wi-Fi hotspot, give up your personal information.

In 2018 two Canadian banks had their websites hacked, compromising 90,000 customers` data. Any website can be hacked. Neighbourhood Protect encrypts all user passwords but cannot guarantee that this website will never be hacked - caveat emptor.

Additionally, many people also use Facebook and LinkedIn. Those websites contain more personal information about their users than basic contact information.

As seen from the examples above, no website is 100% secure - ever.

Why is there no SSL (https)?

This website does not collect financial information and only collects minimul personal information (ie. no age or date of birth). Your name and address can often be found at land registry offices, canada411.ca and 411.ca, contact information is often found on Facebook, LinkedIn, indeed, etc. Without senstive information being collected, the additional cost of SSL and potential performance slow down do not justify using it. Supporting web article

How do I improve my online security?

Can I belong to more than one neighbourhood watch?

Yes. If you have a business or cottage you can have a second NW there. It will require another email address to sign up with. You can refer yourself from your first profile.

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Improving Neighbourhood Watch Through Automation