The City of Cape Town is developing a mobile application for use by Neighbourhood Watches (NW) for community safety. Input from NWs is valuable for the development of the app and once it is operational, this digital tool will increase efficiency, access to services and promote communication between NWs and the City.

The City provides support, training and equipment to NWs through the Neighbourhood Watch Support Programme established in 2008. The NW programme at large is a joint initiative between the City and the Western Cape Department of Community Safety, which aims to formalise and strengthen Neighbourhood Watches. The City has recently invested R3-million in the 2020/21 financial year for training and equipment which will benefit NWs.

Now, the City is taking the assistance it offers to NWs one step further with the development of the mobile application. With the press of a button, organisations will be able to access services, share information and promote networking with enforcement agencies in the spirit of improving community safety.

“The City commends and supports the great work being done by Neighbourhood Watches throughout the metropole. They are an important link between our enforcement agencies and the community. Members of NWs do duty on a voluntary basis in their communities and they need all the support  they can get, which the City is committed to providing,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

To get an understanding of the needs and best practice being used by Neighbourhood Watches, the City of Cape Town is currently busy with an online survey where NWs are invited to submit proposals and comment on their needs for the development of the NW app. This information will be considered and where possible, implemented in the development of the application.

The mobile app, once operational, will assist NWs to manage community operations and communicate with other role players. The application can also be used to access specific City services.

During the development process, various operational imperatives have already been addressed and will add value to the voluntary work being done by NWs. Some of the issues addressed in the development process include:

– Assistance with the accreditation process
– Assisting with Disaster Risk Management activities
– Access to information sharing, including crime patterns, access to by-laws and legal framework information
– Managing and distribution of equipment requests for NW members
– Managing of training requests from both the Western Cape Department of Community Safety and the City
– Possible provision of alerts, including general alerts such as protest action, local alerts such as motor vehicle accidents, missing children alerts, etc.

In addition to the above, NWs will also be able to create general City C3 service notification requests and incidents directly from the mobile app.  This will automatically trigger a reference number. The application can also be used as an administrative tool, where members will be able to manage shift patrols, duty rosters and time schedules.

To accommodate as many comments and proposals, the deadline for submission has been extended to Thursday, 3 September 2020.

The questionnaire can be accessed by visiting the following link: http://bit.ly/NWMobileApp

“Neighbourhood Watches best understand the needs of their respective communities and it is important that we build on our relationship and support one another in these challenging times. Neighbourhood Watches have an important crime prevention function and we will continue to provide support and training to them. Once the app is approved and operational, it will be put to good use and will increase our interaction and accessibility of crime prevention services,” added Alderman Smith.

Picture: Unsplash

Article written by

Anita Froneman