9th February 2017
– The G-Tag Vehicle Global Positioning System, will
Cost positive and
Make Victoria a leader as an innovative State.
For most people, their car is their most important and valued asset and to have it stolen is devastating. But motor cars, whether stolen or not, are also commonly associated with crimes including, hit-and-run, robbery, drugs, rape, murder and 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 new phenomenon. 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 being used as weapons.
The Bourke Street massacre should be justification alone to introduce the G-Tag and 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 possibility of IS fighters and or their children returning to Australia from these areas will no doubt bring with it skills used in that place.
The multiple killings, countless injuries, millions of dollars of theft and massive damage bills caused because current legislation is focused exclusively on the driver not the vehicle and until that changes the vehicles and their 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 (behind their protection and then only from cars) but 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 that the risks posed by the motor car should be managed by legislation which focuses on the driver, clearly has had only limited success.
– To further reduce the risks we need to focus on the vehicle.
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 is widely used in the community, the devices record and re-transmit its own location to a satellite-based global positioning system. These re-transmitted signals allows the identification of the vehicle, the vehicles location and the route it has and is taking. It also communicates the vehicle speed.
That route can be recorded for days or weeks therefore capable of identifying which vehicle was driven in a particular location at a previous time. This ability will allow Police to identify vehicle used in crime and as important as the current location of the vehicle is the historical routes the vehicle has taken which perhaps have more investigative value.
An example, and there are many, would be a drive by shooting in the early hours. Witnesses can usually supply a time of the shots, with a G-Tag the police could identify which vehicles was driven in that location at the time given.
Central to this proposal will be the fitting of tracking devices to every vehicle and 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.
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 however that will lead to perpetrators being detected rapidly. This will lead to a reduction in insurance costs. G-Tags . This would also reduce the demand on 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’s.
In Australia 49 vehicles a week are stolen and processed for scrap metal – one in four cars stolen are never recovered – $103 Million estimated value of cars never recovered. 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, in excess of 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
- 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. The use of postcodes to quarantine victims will enable Police to intervene when postcode boundaries are crossed by perpetrators breaching a Family Violence Orders. Alerting Police to reduce the risk to the victim.
- Missing Persons-. G-Tags can locate vehicles of missing persons before self-harm. Suicidal victims are generally located after their demise when family have contacted Police over concerns but Police driving around searching every nook and cranny has historically been demonstrated as ineffective and an utter waste of time.
G-Tags will save lives with the chance of getting professional help to a desperate person.
For a variety of reasons people disappear in their cars, from murder victims to abductions to the mentally ill. To be able to locate their car using G-Tag will lead to interventions that will save lives.
- 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 manpower. 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-Tag’s without intrusion to better understand the risks posed by suspects.
The use of vehicles as a weapon in Terrorism is common place in the current war zones and is likely to appear in Australia when daesh fighters and or their families return bringing that knowledge with them.
- 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 is on the rise, there is a substantial risk that 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Police Pursuits – This technology virtually eliminates the need for a pursuit and the disabling of the car by G-Tag reduces risk to the Community, the Police and even the offender.
- Emergency vehicles – can easily and reliably be located and managed when civil emergencies occur. g. incident managers could recognise the precise locations of fire appliances during bushfire outbreaks, so as to direct them to where they are most needed – or away from impending danger.
- Arial surveillance – Currently undertaken by the Police Air wing there are limitations with availability and response times. The G-Tag will not replace the need for Arial Surveillance as a Policing tool but the G-Tag will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the Air Wing reducing operating costs.
- Legal implications – The data recorded in the G-Tag system has evidentiary value as does E-Tags and Security Cameras, however the potential for the improved data available from G-Tags will provide strong data of evidentiary value for Prosecution and Defence in equal benefit, further improving our judicial system.
Setting the case for Part 2 of this proposal using G-Tag.
The first part of this proposal using a converted E-Tag’s will only reach a percentage of the Victorian fleet and unless a case can be presented for voluntary take up of G-Tags based on the E-Tag system the limitations although not totally limiting will reduce the overall potential of the program. The advantage in converting E-Tags to G-Tags will ensure a rapid introduction of the program.
Part 2 is the introduction of more sophisticated G-Tag’s (technology is currently available) that are hard wired into the vehicles electronics and fitted where they cannot be easily removed or interfered with. This technology adds a new layer where the vehicles 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.
The upgraded G-Tags would need to be fitted to all new vehicles including trucks pre delivery and fitted to all cars as part of the roadworthy process. 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 the primary role of Police.
The issue of re-establishing the functionality of the vehicle 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 on, it is just a matter of protocols.
The cost debate
There is a cost but as this is a new innovation the technology development costs of G-Tag would be well offset by marketing the initiative interstate and overseas. 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. There would be nominal cost recovery from the users in the installation of 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 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. Recurring costs would be in part 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 cost should not be prohibitive somewhere under $200.
The proposal to introduce a pay as you use system for registration, third party and comprehensive insurance will contribute to the set up and recurring cost of the system. The system could therefore potentially protect innocent victims from financial hardship as a result of vehicle damage – Potentially the initiative could be cost positive.
Anybody who own a smart phone 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 smart phone. 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 vehicles,” Immobilisation technology”. A SIM card is the solution.
By designing and fitting an after-market G-Tag to attached to the electronics of vehicle’s the function of the vehicle can be managed. The power supply for the G-Tag is then secured for the life of the vehicle. The simplest method to communicate with the vehicle electronics is by a SIM card in the device using the Mobile network to communicate with the cars computer.
The Issue of Privacy
In the 1980’s there was a very vocal minority who saw themselves as the keepers of our privacy objecting to the installation of the eight CCTV cameras for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Melbourne. They vocalised on the prying eyes and the abuse that would occur should the cameras not be removed immediately the conference was finished- “It’s a Police State”, was the mantra of the group.
Their plaintive cries are now fairly humorous, when we look around at the number of cameras that watch us on a daily basis 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 wider 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 the 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.
For anybody worried about the movement of their vehicle being monitored then realise there is 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 vehicle that are of particular interest- law abiding citizens just hide in the crowd.
-there is no reason to hide if you are being lawful.
Impact on Judicial processes.
The implementation of this system will provide the Judiciary with and alternative in the sentencing of offenders particularly for the less serious traffic infringements and in some case other criminal activity.
Currently lives are ruined financially and otherwise by fines and driving restrictions that cause offenders to loose employment and the capacity to pay fines and in this double jeopardy can ruin many young people’s lives. Correcting bad behaviour by bad outcomes destroys the chance of future compliance and does not lead to future compliance but can in desperation lead particularly young people towards crime and in desperation 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 therefore enabling them to pay the fines but still having their mobility curtailed dramatically 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.
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.
One of the best securities of the privacy of individuals is the overall size of the Victorian fleet. The agency monitoring the data will be necessarily focused on the important data and the average law abiding citizen will only be exposed to the system when they are a victim.
The G-Tag is an “out there” proposal but there are a myriad far more extreme ideas that once seemed farfetched that are now accepted as the mainstream norm, worldwide web, television and the telephone!
Anybody who has a mobile phone, shops at a supermarket or a volume traders store, has interaction with any political organisation, uses the internet, uses a financial institution, has an interaction with Health or Education systems and takes out Insurance, is part of the workforce or reliant on welfare has more detail of their lives recorded, trolled through and assessed than we care to think about but it is a price we are prepared to pay for convenience and quality of life.
We now accept security cameras as a way of life as well as the dreaded speed cameras, 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 makes it a worthwhile project.
Our Prime Minister calls for Innovation – this is innovation that will save lives.
“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 would be shared by the overwhelming majority of Victorians.
That a working party be established by Government to draft the legislation to establish a G-Tag Authority with the role of developing the technology and designing the model for the ongoing management and operation of the system.
Ivan W. Ray
Community Advocacy Alliance