Radio station joins crime fight

2008-04-25 00:00

In an initiative aimed at arming KwaZulu-Natal community members with proactive anti-crime information, East Coast Radio has pioneered an online Neighbourhood Watch feature.

The newly launched Internet-based virtual notice board, Neighbourhood Watch, is an offshoot from East Coast Radio’s Crimewatch on-air feature and blog. The incidents reported by East Coast Radio, which has been recognised as a crime fighter for many years, were recently raised in Parliament.

It’s hoped that Neighbourhood Watch will enable East Coast Radio to take its crime-fighting initiatives to new levels. After registering on the site, Internet users are able to report and track crime and suspicious behaviour in their areas. There is no cost involved in the registration.

Apart from assisting the public, Neighbourhood Watch will also act as a resource for Community Policing Forums, private security companies, the South African Police Services or anyone who wishes to access real-time information about crime in KwaZulu-Natal.

What makes the initiative unique is that listeners are able to specifically pinpoint the crimes that they are alerting others about. As Neighbourhood Watch is broken down into areas, listeners have access not only to general information but to specific information which is relevant to where they live or work.

In addition to posts per area, there are map views that show high-alert areas along with the latest alert in each of those areas. The Neighbourhood Watch component makes use of the latest web 2.0 technology which allows the user to view different areas without reloading the entire page over and over again. This means that clicking on an area or category will update the page without the need to reload the entire site.

“The beauty of the Neighbourhood Watch is that as it’s totally user-driven, it allows our listeners to take control and interact with other users as and when they go on to the site.

“We are having awesome feedback from community organisations that hope to use the Neighbourhood Watch as a communi- cation tool,” says Trish Taylor, CEO of East Coast Radio.

Newswatch editor Diane Macpherson says: “The Neighbourhood Watch is a sophisticated web-based tool that has been designed for us by our web developers in under a month. I

t represents one of the station’s responses to help in the fight against crime.

“East Coast Radio values its standing in the community. We have received numerous crime- fighting suggestions from the public and are currently engaged with partners to create other workable solutions. We now need communities to use this tool to help keep them safe and to warn others proactively about hotspots and the like. Information posted will be fed

back on air, via Crimewatch,” says Macpherson .

Crimewatch airs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9.20 am and is presented by Melini Moses.

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