Building a virtual neighborhood watch

?It’s impossible for police officers to be everywhere. As our worldwide population continues to grow, and the trend towards urbanization continues, crime prevention resources will continue to be challenged. Law enforcement professionals are constantly striving to prioritize their time and attention on the most pressing public safety threats, which means citizens have a critical role to play in delivering important information to officials. Our neighborhoods may be getting larger, but the old idea of the neighborhood watch is still alive and well.

While the goals of the neighborhood watch remain the same, the tools have completely changed the public safety landscape. The explosion of mobile and web-based technologies is fostering new levels of two-way communication between law enforcement and the citizens they protect. These neighborhood management solutions are enabling public safety organizations to collect, analyze, and act upon suspicious activity data supplied by community members in real-time. Citizens are using online portals housed in the cloud to make emergency complaints, share information on crime activity, and educate themselves on relevant police services. They are using their mobile devices to upload photos of suspicious vehicles and packages to social media sites, and using mobile applications like Agentto to request emergency assistance in real-time.

Neighborhood management solutions not only give citizens a greater voice in improving safety, but they help security officials spot trends of anti-social activity and proactively address the shared concerns of the entire community. By monitoring citizen feedback within these emerging tools, law enforcement officials can achieve a more holistic picture of threat activity, better prioritize resource allocation, and respond before incidents occur.

A great example of this movement comes from India, where Microsoft has partnered with the Delhi Police on the development of the “Know Your Police Station” (KYPS) mobile application. Hosted in the Microsoft cloud, this exciting tool enables citizens to submit threat or crime information from their mobile device via text message, email, or Twitter. The crowd-sourced information is automatically routed to the closest police station using Bing Maps location-tagged data, enabling a comprehensive overview of threat activity and empowering informed response.

In the coming months we’ll be updating the blog with more detail on the Delhi Police’s innovative use of neighborhood management technologies, as well as showcasing examples from other parts of the world. To ask questions, share ideas, or receive more information, please contact us at or @MicrosoftPSNS.


About the Author

Dr. Andrew Hawkins | Managing Director, Public Safety and Justice, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft Corporation

Dr. Andrew Hawkins, Director, Public Safety & Justice Solutions, Worldwide Public Sector, has more than two and a half decades’ public sector expertise. He holds a PhD in Management Science from Lancaster University Management School. Read More