50,000 eyes = ‘Road Watch’.

50,000 eyes = ‘Road Watch’.

Very interesting statistics reveal that drivers in this State are being watched by over 50,000-eyes by concerned citizens who are prepared to report bad driving behaviour to the police through 000.

The problem is the bad drivers don’t know it.

Unfortunately, there is a disproportionate response from VicPol to these community efforts, with only .09% of calls acted on, or only 45 calls in 12 months.

Of those 45 calls, several very serious offences were disclosed, and drivers were charged.

Whether data is collected incorrectly, the Police switch off these reports due to other priorities, or they are not explicitly allocated the task (accountability), so no one does anything. These are management matters that VicPol needs to address.

These figures are shocking and, if true, are an indictment of VicPol’s priority for road safety. We accept that the number responded to will always be limited as the caller is vague or similar, but not 99%.

Anything less than a 50% response would not be acceptable and raise serious concerns, but .09% is very serious.

We accept that many reported incidents are written off as ‘No Offence disclosed’ (NOD) or ‘Gone on Arrival’ (GOA), but not 99% without investigating the over 50,000 reported incidents. This is outrageous if anywhere near accurate.

This negative must be turned into a positive, hence ‘Road Watch’.

A ‘Road Watch’ community Police initiative will enable drivers who are perceived to be dangerous to be targeted.

Irresponsible drivers will be unaware of the number of other drivers watching them, and the old driver’s habit of watching the rearview mirror for police has long waned, simply due to the inability of the police to maintain a high profile on our roads.

There is a high probability that this effect is directly proportionate to the lack of police activity on our roads and the increased reliance on technology.

Whether the lack of Police on our roads is due to a capability issue, lack of resources or how the resources are used, VicPol must wrestle with these things. Nevertheless, the roads would be safer if all drivers knew their bad driving could be reported to the police.

The promotion of this initiative will warn drivers that they will not only have to look out for police, but there are 50,000 eyes in the community watching them and potentially reporting their behaviour behind the wheel, but they will not know which other vehicle on the road is a ‘Road Watch’ participant.

We are consistently told Police presence on the roads, particularly the highways, is very poor. With community help, bad driver behaviour can be influenced throughout the State, augmenting the lack of Police resources.

Significant flaws in the current process relating to failed service delivery need to be addressed urgently.

  • All calls must be allocated to an operational unit member; albeit the traditional overarching ‘Keep a look out for’ may be appropriate, the job still needs to be assigned and investigated. Keeping a lookout cannot be measured as an outcome.
  • The responsible member must contact the person making the report as soon as possible to enable the matter to be investigated. (Information from members of the public may not have been effectively passed via police comms.)
  • The outcome must be logged for management functions.
  • All data collected must be automatically cross-referenced to all reports to identify any driver patterns requiring attention.
  • All calls from the public about bad driving must be given a much higher priority and, with that, ensure greater accountability.

Moreover, how is it known whether the complainant has additional information, perhaps Dash-cam footage, that may help identify a driver if they are not contacted after their report? All these matters must be investigated.

This is all part of the Service Delivery Matrix, or should be.

The effectiveness of any Police Force is directly and intrinsically linked to the level of information from the public. Without public support, the Police become ineffective.

Public information and support regarding road users is critical.

The failure of the Police to contact all citizens motivated to contact the Police on 000 about bad drivers with an outcome for their efforts and to thank them for their diligence is inexcusable given its importance.

Not communicating with callers is counterproductive to fostering further help from the community and developing better and more productive Police Community interactions.

Informing all drivers that they are being watched will lead to better compliance.

‘Road Watch’

The CAA makes the following recommendations.

  • VicPol must respect the community’s efforts by elevating responses to callers to a higher priority.
  • All callers be advised to expect a phone call from the attending police.
  • All calls where a driver or vehicle is identified must be automatically cross-checked to other databases, enabling Police to take action against recidivist perpetrators.
  • VicPol immediately review the information gathered on 000 calls to provide accurate data.
  • All calls about bad drivers must be specifically allocated to members to investigate.
  • Members allocated calls must contact the complainants to
    • Discuss the incident for investigative reasons and
    • Thank the caller for their interest.
  • For management efficiency, the priority of all 000 ‘Road Watch’ calls must be allocated to a Highway Patrol unit, the Force traffic experts to investigate the issues.
  • Develop a high-profile Road safety campaign highlighting ‘Road Watch’ and the 50,000 eyes watching and reporting bad road users.

This last recommendation will inevitably motivate more community members to participate, which is a good outcome for reducing the frequency of impaired driving and promoting more respect for Police from the community.

The Road Toll can be directly attributed to impaired driving, so targeting this area is logical and sensible. With community support, a reduction in the toll is achievable.

Even if the outcome of an identified driver does not disclose an offence, a knock on the door from police to advise (rather than accuse) that their driving is inappropriate and was reported by other road users will suffice to correct many imperfect drivers.

It makes sense that Police efforts to reduce the road toll are targeted at bad drivers, who are inevitably the primary cause of the raging Road Toll.

‘Road Watch’ -50,000-eyes can be an effective weapon.

G-TAG AND THE PRIVACY DEBATE

G-TAG AND THE PRIVACY DEBATE

Autonomous vehicles and connected vehicles are on the horizon. That technology will have the capacity to take control of vehicles away from drivers. Currently in the advanced stage of trials, which seem rather benign; nevertheless, the impact of this technology will be profound.

Touted as a Road safety initiative, the cost is going to be horrendous and will end up being a cost-benefit tragedy. The G-Tag will be a fraction of the cost and a motorist may only need to spend less than $150 to upgrade their current vehicle as opposed to many thousands for autonomous upgrades, if they are at all possible, forcing people to upgrade their vehicles. Their current vehicle will be valued based on recoverable scrap value.

As annoying as that might be, the bigger problem is that an initiative that transmits or receives data creates a risk of being compromised and used for illicit purposes.

As anticipated, the proposal of a G-Tag https://caainc.org.au/the-g-tag-that-can-save-lives/ has faced a mixed reaction. Although supported by most, several people have expressed unease about the privacy aspect of the proposal, ironically a view we share.

We are cognisant that the development of this initiative will take some work, not only the development of the program’s infrastructure but also the management of the Privacy issue.

The key to privacy issues is to restrict the use of data to strictly defined purposes.

The G-Tag takes on a new priority of late, given the alleged staffing issues of Victoria Police. Using Police resources more efficiently becomes a very high priority.

Technology can reduce risks to Police as well as increase efficiency.

People being better informed will see the advantages of a properly managed G-Tag system far outweigh the risks.

To bring perspective to the privacy issue, we must look back to 1981 when Melbourne hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the first international meeting of this type in Australia.

Initially, over twenty (20) CCTV cameras were installed and monitored by the Police; terrorism was a very real threat at that time.

After the event, and based on the issue of privacy, all but five (5) cameras were removed, and the control of the cameras was moved from the Police to Melbourne City Council to appease objections.

Currently, there are well over twelve (12) thousand in the City of Melbourne, and that is not counting cameras privately commercially operated. These cameras generally operate with no accountability for what is done with the data collected. Is this a matter of ignorance or something else entirely?

https://www.comparitech.com/vpn-privacy/the-worlds-most-surveilled-cities/

As with CCTV Cameras, the operation of the G-Tag has no adverse effect on privacy per se; the raw data is benign, the issue is how the data accumulated is used.

The G-Tag does not take pictures but is designed to locate and monitor target vehicles. Showing their location on maps gives the direction of travel and previous travel for a predetermined period.  Police would have the capacity to shut the vehicle down if it posed a threat to the community.

Logically, stolen vehicles could be located when they were reported, increasing the chances of recovering the vehicle immediately and perhaps catching the perpetrator.

Using this system to protect the community from random attacks using vehicles could be minimised.

The very recent murder of criminal heavyweight Gavin ‘Capable’ Preston as he sat having breakfast involved no less than three cars used by the assailants and possibly more.  At least two of them were reported to Police prior to the hit.
A G-Tag system operating on a relevant algorithm could have identified a pattern, of stolen car locations and given police a heads-up, something was happening.
Additionally, the perpetrators would have an uncomfortable shock returning to their planned getaway car to find it is immobilised.
We should be very concerned over this killing as the chances of a criminal War is very real, it was only good luck that an innocent patron of the café was not killed or maimed.

To protect privacy, every vehicle that is tagged or prompts a response, irrespective of the nature of the vehicle’s behaviour, must be recorded with the justification included for any future reference.

The use of cameras and other monitoring tools has become widespread, albeit with minimal impact on privacy. It is essential to establish strict regulations around data management to mitigate any negative consequences and promote transparency. This will instil trust among the public that the system is acting in its best interest, will not cause harm, and is accountable for its actions.

The real harm of these technologies is not the action of collecting data so much, but how that data is used and how it is stored and retrieved. Essentially, encryption of the data will protect it from Hackers and misuse or other unauthorised access for nefarious reasons.

Cameras have come a long way and are a part of life. https://www.theage.com.au/national/every-step-you-take-20050726-ge0kta.html

But cameras are not the only intrusion that we have accepted.

Anybody who,

  • Owns a computer.
  • Shops at a Supermarket.
  • A car
    • Owns, leases or hires.
    • Uses freeways, tollways or major highways.
    • Parks in a major shopping mall.
    • Uses a commercial car park.
    • Insures or registers a car.
  • Uses a card, either loyalty, credit, or other card functions.
  • Has a bank account.
  • Uses medical services.
    • Has Private Health Insurance
    • Has Medicare
    • Any social service interaction.
    • Employment
      • Union Membership.
      • Payee Taxation
    • Has a passport
    • Travels on public transport
    • Any interaction with the Tax Office
    • Interacts with Local Governments
    • Uses services utilities.
    • Attends any educational institutions.
    • Plays sport.
    • Belongs to any social or sporting club.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it shows that just living in a modern society comes with some privacy baggage.

What is important to realise is that, by and large, most of the data collected is benign, and it is largely unregulated, but the collection of this data is not the issue; it is the use of the data that is where things can come undone.

In the design and development of the G-Tag system, as much care must be applied to protecting privacy as goes into designing the operations.

The G-Tag is capable of monitoring any vehicle on our roads, and that is what causes some angst, but your individual privacy is assured by the following safeguards.

  • There are over five million vehicles in Victoria, so the best system could only track targeted vehicles, so the average motorist has nothing to fear.
  • Vehicle tracking must have an expiry date, and the tracking justification must be retained securely.
  • The unauthorised release of data collected by the system needs to be a criminal offence.
  • A vehicle driver, either a missing person or an overdue traveller, would, in many cases, use the G-Tag system. Police can safely intercept them to check their welfare. It would be up to the driver whether their details are passed to those who made the original report. This will avoid obvious misuse of the system.
  • Only sworn Police can operate the system or access data. (Police are the most accountable and suitable for the task).
  • All data must be encrypted to avoid hacking.
  • An independent Board including Police executives, Government representatives and an equal number of non-aligned members of the public to provide a monitoring and evaluation function.

If, however, you own or drive a car that is ten years old or younger, the chances are that you are already being monitored by the manufacturer, and the Limp Home Mode function or the capacity to shut a vehicle down already exists in vast numbers of the Victorian fleet.

The question posed is, would you rather be covered by a transparent authorised function in Victoria or the unregulated actions of overseas manufacturers and perhaps dealerships?

Today, most transport fleet operators, hire car firms, and many Government departments and authorities install tracking devices in their vehicles, often unbeknown to the driver.

Although, that data is managed in Australia, how do you feel about using a car that transmits unregulated data to another country? Probably not an issue with friendly countries, but what of the countries that are not?

It raises concerns for national security that a foreign power could potentially track and shut down large portions of the vehicle fleet or individually targeted vehicles in the country as an act of aggression or terrorism.

With all the risks we are exposed to, the G-Tag proposal is somewhat innocuous.

REDUCING THE ROAD TOLL – WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY

REDUCING THE ROAD TOLL – WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY

18 th June 2023

The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) is a group of retired police officers and concerned citizens who are committed to making Victoria a safer place.

Recently, CAA obtained statistics from Victoria Police regarding calls made to 000 reporting erratic driving or suspected DUIs. Dr. Ray Shuey, a former Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner for Traffic and a member of CAA, submitted the application for the data, which cost $440.00 and covers the years 2020 to 2022.

The data shows that in 2022, concerned community members made over 51,000 calls 000 about problematic road users. However, in 88.61% of these cases, the only response was a “Keep A Look Out” (KALOF) broadcast, with no further investigation being undertaken. Only 7.18% of cases were recorded as “enquiries pending,” but there was no follow-up on the outcomes of these enquiries. Only about 1,000 calls resulted in any real action, such as an offence detected, an offender apprehended, or a stolen car located, resulting in a success rate of approximately 2.21%.

Clearly, the community wants to make our roads safer, but the Victoria Police response is woefully inadequate. This issue was first raised within Victoria Police in December 2011 and again in June 2013 but little has changed in the intervening decade.

At the time of the 2011 report examples were cited where the only response would have been to Keep A Look Out For, but for further intervention. No doubt every reader would be able to recount their own similar experiences:

  • 2 x vehicles seen “dragging” along Ferntree Gully Road Glen Waverley, registration number of both vehicles provided. No vehicle available to attend, disposition recorded as AAC (All Apparently Correct). Analysis of LEAP data indicated that the probable driver of one vehicle currently had 19 demerit points and had recent criminal convictions for serious offences. His Dossier stated, “The subject person is into high performance drag cars. Currently doing up a LH Torana for street drags.” Contacted caller who stated she was a nurse at the xxxx Hospital and constantly saw people in emergency who had been involved in vehicle collisions. Stated she got her friend, who was a passenger in the car at the time, to ring 000 as she feared for the safety of other road users. Both prepared to make statements and attend court if required.
  • Vehicle observed driving dangerously on the Monash Freeway towards the city, correct registration number provided. 251 directed KALOF. Contacted 251 and requested that a unit be directed to investigate. 251 replied in email a short time later that the registered owner and the reporting person had both been contacted. The registered owner stated that the vehicle was being driven by her granddaughter. A further check revealed the granddaughter has numerous prior convictions associated with drug use. The reporting person provided additional details of the extent of the dangerous driving and stated she was prepared to make a statement.
  • Vehicle seen at 1100hrs in Chapel Street, Prahran, several callers reported the vehicle had driven through 2 red lights and overtaken a tram on the incorrect side of the road. Correct registration number provided. Units directed by 251 to locate vehicle, unable to locate, no further action taken. Checked LEAP, noted on registration pre-enquirer that at 1330hrs on the same day a member from Melbourne Highway Patrol had checked the vehicle. Contacted member who stated that the vehicle had been involved in a serious collision and the driver was taken to hospital. Stated witnesses had seen the vehicle travelling along St Kilda Road and overtake a tram and then collide with a tram stop. Driver possibly drug impaired or psychiatric issues. He had not been aware of the earlier incidents as they were on a different radio channel.

Another tragic example was cited in the 2013 report which had played out with tragic consequences with the death of a 70-year-old female driver. A drug affected driver was convicted of culpable driving. In a 10 day period before the fatal collision a number of calls were made to 000 reporting the driver. In sentencing the Judge made comment that despite numerous calls to police no immediate action was taken. Any of the incidents reported to police could have amounted to Reckless Conduct Endangering Life or Serious Injury, in which case it would have been open to Victoria Police members to arrest and bail the offender with conditions, thus providing an immediate response within existing legislative processes.

As pointed out in the 2011 and 2013 reports clearly the consequences of failing to adequately address this issue are serious, including preventable serious road trauma caused by these drivers, further serious driving offences being committed, disqualified or unlicensed drivers remaining undetected, and damage to the reputation of Victoria Police. Additionally, failing to address this issue means missed opportunities to reduce the road toll, raise perceptions of safety, identify and target recidivist offenders, target individuals who pose a heightened risk to community safety and increase confidence in policing.

An effective solution would be to properly investigate these calls, which are often supported by mobile phone or dashcam footage and/or other witnesses. If a caller did not want to provide a statement due to a relatively remote possibility of having to give evidence in court, a letter could be sent to the registered owner advising that their vehicle had been observed being driven dangerously, and on this occasion, no further action would be taken, but the incident had been noted. This would alert the registered owner that others had seen what had occurred and prompt them to reflect on their driver behaviour or who they authorized to drive their car. There would be a provision for a registered owner to query the event, but the identity of the person providing the information would be protected.

CAA has recently had discussions with Victoria Police about how to progress an effective solution to this unacceptable situation. It will likely require additional resources, but it is worth it for a safer Victoria.

It is up to the Police command to manage and prioritize existing resources, work with communities, share data, and make a transparent, cogent case for additional resources. This follows the an evidence-based policing approach in keeping with a Prevention and Community Empowered (PACE) policing model. The public wants to make our roads safer, and it’s time for Victoria Police to take a more effective approach to investigating calls to 000 regarding erratic driving.

A BRIGHT IDEA

2nnd June 2023

Upper House Nick McGowen’s comments regarding drivers using headlights during the day caught my attention recently. HS 1st of June 2023, A Bright Idea.

In the 1970s, while stationed at Seymour Highway Patrol, I often found myself from time to time, losing sight of oncoming vehicles or those waiting to turn onto the highway. All be it for a slit second, but long enough for it to be potentially dangerous, particularly at dawn, dusk, and variable weather conditions. This was especially dangerous for catching-speeding motorists, as high-speed driving was commonplace, and that facilitated constant high-speed driving for enforcement.

I was ridiculed by my superiors when I suggested that drivers should use their parking lights while driving. I was even directed not to use them in police vehicles.

Interestingly, I could not find any regulation that prohibited driving with headlights during the day.

MP Nick McGowan’s proposal to require all drivers to activate their headlights during the day is a sensible measure that should be supported by all politicians. This simple initiative can significantly improve visibility on the country as well as metropolitan roads, particularly in areas with shadows and variable conditions. However, drivers of vehicles without daytime running lights should be required to use their parking lights.

Aftermarket daytime driving lights are available for less than $100 and are easy to install without the need for a specialist auto electrical service. Therefore, it is reasonable to require vehicles that need a Certificate of Roadworthiness to be fitted with these lights.

While I support this initiative wholeheartedly, it saddens me that it could have saved hundreds of Victorian lives if it had been introduced in the 70s.

The lesson here is that our legislators should not dismiss ideas simply because they cannot see their value; sometimes, the visions of others are critical.

G-Tag   A NEW PARADIGM IN COMMUNITY SAFETY

G-Tag A NEW PARADIGM IN COMMUNITY SAFETY

29th October 2022 First Published 9th Feb 2016

‘It was claimed by Victoria Police that the G-Tag proposal submitted in 2016 was assessed and  piloted, however, the pilot was not of this proposal but a proposal with similarities that seemed suspiciously like a cover for a feasibility assessment for a commercial venture.

The G-tag has a far wider application, and the pilot did not facilitate testing of the concept.

Police at the time did not have the capacity to grasp the concept and to their discredit never bothered to check with the authors for clarity.

The current administration of VicPol seems more adroit than past administrations, and we hope for the benefit of all Victorians that they seriously consider this proposal.’

 – The G-Tag

Save Lives                                                                                                                                                          Reduce crime                                                                                                                                                         Cost positive and                                                                                                                                           Make Victoria a leader as an innovative State.

Introduction

For many people, their car is their most important and valued asset, and to have it stolen is devastating. Unfortunately, motor cars, whether stolen or not, are also commonly associated with crimes including hit-run, robbery, drugs, rape, murder, domestic violence and now Terrorism.

The relatively new experience of motor vehicles being used as a weapon either against Police or as a weapon of mass destruction, terror-related or not, is a recent phenomenon. However, the introduction of this new level of violence In the West has brought a new urgency to the G-Tag.

The G-Tag, when fully implemented, is the only stratagem that will stop vehicles from being used as weapons.

The Bourke Street massacre should be justification alone for introducing the G-Tag. Unless you live under a rock, we know that it will only be a matter of time before we experience the devastation of truck or car bombs, as is all too common elsewhere in the world.

The multiple killings, countless injuries, millions of dollars of theft and massive damage is caused because current legislation is focused exclusively on the driver, not the vehicle. Until that changes, the vehicles available to drivers will continue to wreak havoc.

The most creative solution dreamed up thus far by Government and Police in Melbourne is strategically placed bollards and reinforced concrete planters. A little underwhelming. They will create safe areas (but only from cars). Still, the vulnerability of people will then be focused on the areas unable to be protected, including every intersection in Melbourne at peak pedestrian times when pedestrians in large numbers cross are exposed.

There were 4,567,314 vehicles (ABS Data and includes all vehicles) Registered in Victoria in 2015 – a huge and valuable state asset that needs to be protected.

The traditional view is the risks posed by the motor car should be managed by legislation focusing on the driver. Unfortunately, the success of this approach is problematic at best, with very limited success.

‘The best way to reduce any crime is to increase in the perpetrators’ mind the likelihood that they will get caught – penalties in themselves have limited impact because the perpetrator does not commit the act to get caught and never expects to get caught.

When the probability of being caught fails to dissuade, we need the ability to intervene to minimise the impact of the behaviour.

Authorities (Police) should be able to safely slow down or stop particular vehicles in the interests of public safety and/or law enforcement,’

Without diminishing the current Law and Order response, there is a need to think through and discuss alternatives – that alternative is the vehicle.

GPS Tracking

GPS tracking is widely used in the community; the devices record and re-transmit their own location to a satellite-based global positioning system. These re-transmitted signals allow the identification of the vehicle, location, and route it has and is taking. It also communicates the vehicles speed.

That route can be recorded for days or weeks, and capable of identifying which vehicle was driven in a particular location at a previous time. This ability will allow Police to identify the vehicle used in a crime. As important as the current location of the vehicle, is the historical routes the vehicle has taken, which perhaps has more investigative value.

An example, and there are many, would be a drive-by shooting in the early hours. Witnesses can usually supply the time of the shots; with a G-Tag, the Police could identify which vehicles were driven in that location at the time given.

Central to this proposal will be the fitting of tracking devices to every vehicle. Although this forms part of the first stage of this proposal, it needs to be seen through the prism of advantages to the community, a safety and Crime Prevention/Minimisation strategy, albeit that an economic case may be produced for the system raising alternative revenue streams for the Government, a user pays system for registration. The latter is the most equitable method of raising revenue.

Setting the case for part one of this proposal – the G-Tag

The advantages of developing a GPS locating system, or G-Tag, for the entire Victorian road fleet will be no small feat; however, the return will be enormous.

Theft of Motor vehicles and machinery

With a G-Tag, stolen vehicles can be located quickly; the focus is on the property, not the perpetrator, which will serendipitously lead to perpetrators being detected rapidly. This will lead to a reduction in insurance costs. This would also reduce the demand for Police time and assist in arresting perpetrators.

G-Tags will influence the perpetrators knowing the chances of getting caught have escalated and may dissuade many would-be offenders.

In Australia, 49 vehicles are stolen and processed for scrap metal a week and one in four cars stolen are never recovered – $103 Million estimated value of cars never recovered. In addition, there are estimated to be 5 million cars on Australian roads that do not have immobilising technology. (Source -National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council.).

In Victoria, 14366 vehicle thefts were reported according to VicPol statistics – in 2014. In 2015 that number increased to 17090, an increase of 19%. The National average of vehicles not recovered is 31% (This figure could be substantially higher when including vehicles recovered damaged beyond repair – burnt out etc.) so extrapolating those figures to Victoria, over 5000 vehicles disappear every year, or nearly 100 every week.

What the statistics do not show is the hardship caused and the danger posed to the community

Community safety – a G-Tag will assist

  1. Victims of Domestic violence-. They can be better protected by tagging perpetrators’ vehicles in the G-Tag system to warn Police of the perpetrator heading toward the victim. In addition, using postcodes to quarantine victims will enable Police to intervene when postcode boundaries are crossed by perpetrators breaching a Family Violence Order—alerting Police to reduce the risk to the victim.
  2. Missing Persons-. G-Tags can locate vehicles of missing persons before self-harm. Suicidal victims are generally found after their demise when the family have contacted Police over concerns, but Police driving around searching every nook and cranny has historically been demonstrated as ineffective and usually does not end in locating the individual before it is too late.

G-Tags will have the ability to save lives with the chance of getting professional help to desperate people.

Rural application-                                                                                                                                             The application in Rural and remote Victoria is very sound; consider being able to locate a tractor on a large remote property or a driver overdue to destinations, particularly in times of natural disaster. This will also reduce the number of unnecessary searches.

The applications of G-Tag technology can be extended to include watercraft and recreational vehicles.

Technology instead of human resources.                                                                                                      The thousands of man-hours expended by emergency services, particularly Police, can be dramatically reduced in multiple circumstances by the G-Tag Policing will become more efficient and effective, reducing pressure on Police resources.

Criminal activity –                                                                                                                                        Terrorism Investigations would have the advantage of monitoring vehicles with G-Tags without intrusion to better understand the risks posed by suspects.

The use of vehicles as a weapon in Terrorism is commonplace in the current war zones. It is likely to appear in Australia at some stage and being prepared will save lives.

  1. Criminal Behaviour –There is a current spate of home invasions where perpetrators physically confront victims in their homes by forced entry to gain access to keys to steal high-end motor vehicles. This type of activity (home invasion) is on the rise; there is a substantial risk of serious harm, if not the death of a victim. The ability to track these vehicles by G-Tag and immobilise them is very attractive to the victims and Police.
  2. Illicit Drugs must be transported in vehicles at some stage. Access to G-Tag technology will provide invaluable assistance in managing the importation and trafficking of drugs.
  3. Hoon drivers –can be monitored and removed from our roads. Known hoons’ vehicles can be tagged in the G-Tag system, and an alarm indicating when like tagged vehicles are identified by the system to be congregating can give Police the opportunity to intervene before the dangers escalate.
  4. Police Pursuits – This technology virtually eliminates the need for pursuits, and G-Tag disabling the car by G-Tag reduces risk to the Community, the Police and even the offender.
  5. Emergency vehicles – can easily and reliably be located and managed when civil emergencies occur. E.g. incident managers could recognise the precise locations of fire appliances during bushfire outbreaks to direct them to where they are most needed – or away from impending danger.
  6. Arial surveillance – Currently undertaken by the Police Airwing, there are limitations with availability and response times. The G-Tag will not replace the need for Arial Surveillance as a Policing tool. Still, the G-Tag will significantly enhance the effectiveness of the Air Wing, reducing operating costs.
  7. Legal implications – The data recorded in the G-Tag system has evidentiary value, as do E-Tags and Security Cameras. The potential for the improved data available from G-Tags will provide data of strong evidentiary value for Prosecution and Defence in equal benefit, further improving our judicial system.
  8. Revenue streams

The advantage of this system is it would allow the Government to use this mechanism to charge registrations on a user-pay basis, the most equitable mechanism. In addition, implementing part two of this proposal would eliminate the need for enforcement of recalcitrant individuals by placing the vehicle in ‘limp home’ mode until the financial liabilities are met. This capacity could also be extended to other civil liabilities related to traffic.

Setting the case for Part 2 of this proposal using G-Tag.

The first part of this proposal using converted E-Tag’s will only reach a percentage of the Victorian fleet unless a case can be presented for voluntary take-up of G-Tags based on the E-Tag system, although not totally limiting will reduce the overall potential of the program. However, the advantage of converting E-Tags to G-Tags will ensure a rapid introduction to the program.

Part 2 introduces more sophisticated G-Tags (technology is currently available) that are hard-wired into the vehicle’s electronics and fitted where they cannot be easily removed or interfered with. This technology adds a new layer where the vehicle’s electronics can be activated remotely to put the vehicle into limp home mode (reducing its top speed to 80KPH) before activating the engine immobiliser to halt the vehicle. The only limitations will be that certain vehicles do not have the limp home mode and would be stopped at a safe place or shut down when stationary.

The upgraded G-Tags would need to be fitted to all new vehicles, pre-delivery (amending Vehicle Standards)and second-hand vehicles as part of the roadworthy process. In addition, a moratorium would be required to set a reasonable time that all vehicles must comply, similar to other safety initiatives, including seat belt introduction.

Stage 2 will allow Police to intervene to stop the commission or continuance of a crime, which is the primary role of the Police.

The issue of re-establishing the vehicle’s functionality when recovered, or is no longer a threat, is again a technical issue that should not prove insurmountable. If it can be switched off, it can be switched back on; it is just a matter of protocols.

The cost debate

There is a cost, but as this is an innovation, the technology development costs of G-Tag would be well offset by marketing the initiative interstate and overseas. In addition, a fee for service arrangement, assisting set up and a fee for intellectual property would generate substantial income.

Part of the development costs could be covered by the Insurance Industry and TAC, who both stand to gain considerably. In addition, there would be nominal cost recovery from the users in installing a device into the existing fleet – manufacturers would be required to fit the device pre-delivery on all new vehicles.

An offset to the toll operator’s contribution (modifying E-Tags)will be the income generated when tracking devices are fitted to the Victorian fleet to include the E-Tag function in the G-Tag, effectively the E-Tag would be redundant.

With savings achieved to the State economy, the overall cost will be well offset. In addition, recurring fees would be partly recovered by beneficiaries, namely Insurance companies, Toll operators, TAC and the user.

Car owners will have to bear some costs, subsidised for Welfare recipients, but the price should not be prohibitive, somewhere under $200.

The proposal to introduce a pay-as-you-use system for registration, third-party and comprehensive Insurance and fuel excise currently avoided by the increased uptake of Electric Vehicles will contribute to the setup and recurring cost of the system.

The system could, therefore, potentially protect innocent victims from financial hardship due to vehicle damage – Potentially, the initiative could be cost-positive.

Technology

Anybody who owns a smartphone or has a Satellite navigation device is acutely aware of the power and application of technology.

Currently advertised on the internet for $35 is a tracking device that can be attached to a vehicle and linked to a smartphone. The technology exists and is small and relatively cheap.

With the increasing sophistication of motor vehicles and their reliance on computers to manage their engines, an opportunity exists to intervene in a vehicle’s performance. A large part (and increasing) of the Victorian fleet are vehicles that have an inbuilt “Limp Home Mode” in their computer systems designed to protect the engine from further damage should a fault be detected

It is a matter of connecting the dots.

  • If we can identify a vehicle using GPS locating technology by a G-Tag, we only need to develop a mechanism to access the vehicle’s computer via the G-Tag to activate the “Limp Home Mode” or the vehicle” Immobilisation technology”. A SIM card is the solution.
  • By designing and fitting an aftermarket, G-Tag to attach to the vehicle’s electronics, the vehicle’s function can be remotely managed.
  • The power supply for the G-Tag is then secured for the vehicle’s life.
  • The simplest method to communicate with vehicle electronics is by a SIM card in the device using the mobile network to communicate with the car’s computer.

 The Issue of Privacy

In the 1980s, a very vocal minority saw themselves as the keepers of our privacy, objecting to installing the eight CCTV cameras for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Melbourne. They vocalised on the prying eyes and the abuse that would occur should the cameras not be removed immediately after the conference was finished- “It’s a Police State” was the group’s mantra.

Their plaintive cries are now somewhat humorous when we look around at the number of cameras that watch us daily, but there is no community concern as it has been demonstrated that they serve the greater good, and law-abiding citizens do not care if they are watched. Indeed, governments actively encourage more expansive use of CCTV in public places, and the take-up of private CCTV systems – including those monitoring public spaces – is impressive.

This initiative has a distinct advantage over CCTV cameras. The Cameras have a deterrent effect and assist with identifying perpetrators, but they cannot stop or prevent the continuation of a crime – the G-Tag can.

Anybody worried about the movement of their vehicle being monitored should realise there are over 5 million vehicles in Victoria, so nobody would have the time, the resources or the interest to monitor every vehicle – it will be enough just monitoring vehicles that are of particular interest- law-abiding citizens just hide in the crowd.

Furthermore, although not common knowledge, most high-end vehicles sold in recent years already have this technology and are used as part of the aftermarket service provided by the manufacturers as a mechanism to update electronics and identify the need for roadside assistance.

Effectively a reasonable percentage of the population drive around oblivious that their movements are being or are capable of being monitored by a third part.

Impact on Judicial processes.

Implementing this system will provide the Judiciary with an alternative to sentencing offenders (by regulating vehicle use), particularly for the less serious traffic infringements and criminal activity in some cases.
Currently, lives are ruined financially and otherwise by fines and driving restrictions that cause offenders to lose employment and the capacity to pay fines.

Unintended double jeopardy can ruin many young people’s lives. Correcting bad behaviour by bad outcomes lessens, and in certain circumstances destroys the chance of future compliance. Instead, in desperation, it can lead, particularly young people, towards crime and drugs to escape what they see as a hopeless situation from which they see no escape.

The G-Tag system can be used to manage the use of a vehicle to certain roads and/or times to allow Offenders to continue in employment, enabling them to pay the fines but still having their mobility curtailed to serve as a punishment.

We are not suggesting this facility become run-of-the-mill but for cases where a driver may exceed .05 after a reading shows residual alcohol or drugs in the low range. Or where breaches of Licence offences and registration matters can be managed without ruining lives.

The increase in penalty recovery would justify offenders retaining employment and avoid forcing people onto welfare and damaging the States productivity.

Recovery of Civil compliance fines could also be improved. For example, a vehicle disabled by G-Tag would rapidly encourage compliance.

System Security

There will need to be legislation that includes safeguards for privacy and safeguards against tampering with the system, either the physical equipment or any signal emitted.

Conclusion

The G-Tag is a proactive and novel proposal, but there is a myriad of far more radical ideas that once seemed farfetched that are now accepted as the mainstream norm, world wide web, television and the telephone!

We now accept security cameras as a way of life and the dreaded speed cameras as an acceptable inconvenience that serves the greater good.

It will take leadership and innovative thought to implement this proposal; however, the advantages to the community make it a worthwhile project.

This is an innovation that will save lives commensurate with its implementation,

  • Minimise Police pursuits by number and duration.
  • Enable the arrest of mobile criminals safely.
  • Monitor criminal activity.
  • Determine the identity of perpetrators when the crime was not witnessed, but a vehicle was involved (historical footage of the scene)
  • Tag domestic violence perpetrators and protect victims with an electronic shield.
  • Reducing a criminal’s ability to use a vehicle in committing a crime.
  • Reducing criminals’ ability to burn stolen vehicles to hide DNA.
  • Locate missing people intent on self-harm.
  • Increase revenue through greater enforcement of civil compliance.
  • Locate and save people in natural disasters.
  • Reduce police resources in trying to locate missing persons.

“I have worked hard to own my car, and if it gets stolen, I would be very happy that it could be located and disabled as soon as it is reported (minimising damage to it). It would be a bonus that the low life that did it was caught.”

A view that the overwhelming majority of Victorians would share.

An additional attraction of this technology is that it will allow a user-pays system to be developed in lieu of registration and other taxes as a reliable and equitable mechanism to tax road users.

Recommendation

That VicPol and Government establish a working party to prepare the business case for this proposal, including the fiscal imperatives that will make this proposal not only practical but cost positive. An approach ANZPAA and Standards Australia should be considered as well as drafting legislation to establish a G-Tag Authority to develop the technology and design the model for the ongoing management and operation of the system.

Ivan W. Ray

Chief Executive Officer

Community Advocacy Alliance Inc