Monday, August 23, 2010

Hi-tech approach to tag graffiti offenders

Wellington City Council plans to arm itself with software to help eradicate graffiti from the capital. The system will be a one-stop shop for the council and other parties, such as the police and KiwiRail, for reporting and analysing graffiti and will help the council target prevention measures.
City safety manager Laurie Gabites says nearly 3000 graffiti incidents are reported to the council each year. "We think that's probably the tip of the iceberg."
The system will let users upload photos of graffiti so they can match "tagging styles" and identify multiple attacks from the same offenders.
Police could use the system to support suspect interviews and prosecutions and in gathering intelligence.
Mr Gabites says information on graffiti is currently spread across several systems, making it difficult for the council to get an accurate picture of the problem.
The council could work more closely with the community to tackle graffiti, once it had more information on the scale, location and source of graffiti, he says.
"We've done some of that work already by producing graffiti kits for the community to take responsibility themselves. We'll try and get to a stage where we can have relatively rapid removal and as well as that there'll be some community-based programmes such as murals and community art. It won't be just limited to dealing with the graffiti."
The council has suggested the software could be integrated with hand-held computers, so council staff and other users could take photos of tags on the spot and record when graffiti at a certain location has been removed.
The public will not be able to report graffiti using the software, which the council hopes to have up and running within a year.
Uptake of the graffiti-removal kits – which include paint remover, gloves, glasses and directions – has been high, Mr Gabites says. "People have come back and got them for their friends and neighbours."

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