The Observatory Neighbourhood Watch has embraced the digital age and hopes to make use of a public crime map developed with Google Maps software to oust criminals from the area for good.
The interactive map details spots in the area where crimes such as robberies, shootings, hijackings, car thefts, house break-ins, trespassing and fighting has been reported, and plots these incidents on the map, showing where there have been spikes in crime and where residents should take caution.
Observatory Improvement District chief operating officer, Hudson McComb, said since the mapping initiative was implemented four months ago, there had been a drop in crime in the area.
“Crime is going down and arrests have gone up in the last months, so we’re doing something right. There is a disproportionate amount of crime in Lower Main Road, Observatory, because of the restaurants and clubs in the area,” said Mr McComb.
The area is divided up into blue, red, green, yellow and orange zones to highlight crime in certain parts of the area and by clicking on a particular crime, residents can access when the crime has taken places with possible comments on the circumstances.
The neighbourhood watch control room collects information reported by the public and this is plotted on the map, and stats received by the watch is compared with those of the police.
The blue sector,located close to Observatory Lower Main Road, is where crime is at its highest, with 51% of crime reported, having occurred there.
Mr McComb said they also analyse on which on nights of the week and at which times most crimes are perpetrated.
“This allows us to mobilise our resources accordingly,” he told the Tatler. “Anyone can access these reports. Our long-term plan is to get a message out to criminals that Observatory is a no-go area.”
Observatory Neighbourhood Watch member, Frank Schuitemaker, who developed the software, said he believed that everyone had the right to know whether they were safe or not.
“Everyone should have information. Crime is there but it’s under-reported. Crime reports help us to predict trends like the type of crime in the area and how it’s committed,” said Mr Schuitemaker.
Woodstock SAPS communication spokesman, Sergeant Hilton Malila, said the system was extremely good and had proven to be similar to the system used by police. “We update them so that they can update their system. It will definitely help reduce crime by exposing the hots spots in the area so that we can educate individuals in these areas on the dangers within the community,” said Sergeant Malila.
To view the Obs Public Crime Map, go to http://tiny.cc/x6dhky or scan the QR Code published with this story.