Idea: Government Initiative - Night Eyes Nightclub Surveillance

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This is an original idea (to the best of my knowledge)!
This page represents an idea by Andrew Noske.


Date of idea: ...........20/3/2003
Date added here: ....13/5/2010
Status: ..................Hoping someone will want to make this their own and contact me!... preferably before I move overseas.


Ideas I've publicly posted here I'd love to implement myself, but I know I (realistically) don't have enough time and/or resources. While most people keep their ideas secret, I'd prefer someone else implement and benefit from this idea rather than it fade in my head and never happen!

If you like this idea or know of a similar one please e-mail me at andrew.noskeATSIGNgmail.com.  :-)

For more info and a list of my public ideas visit: Ideas.

Overview

The idea is a government initiative to have high-tech / high-resolution video cameras at every night club entrance, and watching over every bar and club in Cairns (and maybe one day the rest of Queensland or even Australia). A logo like the one below (knocked up in Photoshop) lets everyone who enters a licence venue know their every action is being recorded.

Suggested night eyes logo to be put outside participating venues

What this logo effectively says to people is this: "our establishment has met a level of video surveillance recommended by the local/state/federal government and designed to help keep our patrons safe".

NOTE: Although I talk about Cairns/Queensland/Australia this concept could easily apply to people in other cities or countries - any location where the residents worry about their children becoming victims of nightclub violence and/or date rape drugs.


The Problem

Nightclub violence and use of date-rape drugs in sexual assault are two incredibly major problems in Australia. Be it the television or newspaper, you're always likely to hear the latest negative stories about nightclubs and the statistics I've just found are genuinely alarming (see near bottom of page). Based on surveys, it's estimated one-in-five adult women in Australia (well over a million) have been raped, and one-in-three adult women have been physically assaulted.

The government has screened many ad campaigns, warning about alcoholic violence and sexual assault. But while education and awareness is important, it doesn't really take offenders off the street. It doesn't matter how safely conscious you are, it only takes a moments lapse in concentration, for one person to distract you, and another to slip something into your drink.

The Solution

We live in a society where most of us are walking around with cameras in our pockets. High-quality CCTV security cameras are not expensive, a few hundred dollar a camera, and can stream data directly to a central server. Now for a nightclub making thousands of dollars a night from their patrons, it's not a lot of money for them to set up these cameras, to help keep their patrons safe. Furthermore, this is an initiative the government should not only push, but heavily subsidise and standardise. Ideally they should offer to install it for free in any agreeing venue!

Around Brisbane CBD and "the valley" they have lots of security camera, and for obvious reasons - even on weekdays you've got lots of brawls and needs a large police presence. Although less popular on the local media: I believe a largely tourist city like Cairns can have just as much danger and could definitely benefit from better security cameras, which are not just installed, but advertised to the public (government advertising) so everyone knows they are there!


The Benefits

Hopefully the advantages of "night eyes" (or whatever the heck you want to call it) should be obviously. If the cameras streams live, there is potential to stop disputes before they escalate, by sending warnings to bouncers or police. But more importantly, there is a chance to go back and review evidence, and identify the perpetrators, so they can be charged. Obviously it's not practical to see every dark corner of a nightclub, but seeing every person who walks into the club, everyone who walks out (and who they walk out with), it should be much easier to identify suspects, and finally start putting some of these scumbags behind bars.

But perhaps the greatest benefit will be that this simple logo, will make patrons aware they are being watched, they will be made accountable for their actions, and therefore encourage everyone to behave.

In summary, I believe it's naive for any nightclub owners or government official to pretend violence and even sexual assault isn't a problem. And if the government makes "night eyes", or something similar, an affordable reality, it would be irresponsible for any nightclub not to neglect the personal safety of their patrons. I believe this initiative, could drastically improve the behavior of young adults on nights out, reduce occurrences of violence and date rate drugs, and ideally lead to much happier and safer nightclubs and bars all over Australia.


Mock Government Ad Campaign

Version 1

{footage of empty street, then violence outside nightclub, then pan in}
Starting Nov 2010, the Queensland government will start installing high resolution video cameras, outside and inside major nightclubs and bars all over (Cairns/Queensland). These high tech cameras will help tackle the problem of drink spiking, violence and drug dealing across our state. We call it the night eye initiative; it's designed to put criminals behind bars, and help keep you safe. It's another reason we're the smart state. Look for this logo outside clubs. For more information, visit nighteyes.com.au.
Spoken by L Peters, authorised by the Queensland government.

Version 2

{footage of scurrying rats, with little to no sound and just text appearing:}
One in three Australian women has been physically assaulted, and one in five sexual assaulted.
{pans up to dark corner, then show barn owl, then maybe start the voice-over:}
This year, there will more eyes watching than ever before... and they're on your side.
{barn owl swoops silently towards camera, then screen goes black, then zoom out from black-dome camera}
Starting January 2010, the Queensland government will install thousands of high resolution video cameras, in major nightclubs and bars all over Queensland.
{show footage of nightclub violence, then zoom in on face} The night eyes initiative will be the largest and most high tech security systems in Australia, helping policemen like Officer Stephens put away the vermin on our streets who use date-rape drugs and instigate nightclub violence.
{show footage of man at bar dragging drunk woman away}
Look for this logo and visit nighteyes.com.au for more information.
Spoken by L Peters, authorised by the Australian government.


Some Relevant Statistics

Only a minority of sexual assault victims, one report estimates only 25%[1], report to the police. Based on government surveys [2], its estimated one-in-five women in Australia over the age of 18 have been sexually assaulted since age 15, and one-in-three have been victims of physical assaulted. Thousands of women and men are sexually or physically assaulted every week, and a large fraction of these incidents start at nightclubs and bars around our country. Incidence of date rape drugs are increasing steadily.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) security cameras are surprisingly affordable these days, most ranging between $50-500 a camera, depending on quality. The government would offer a limited time subsidy, providing free installation of cameras, to help the rapid uptake of the systems. Taking it further, one of the big camera manufacturing companies could help sponsor the "night watch" initiative, donating cameras at cost price, and this would be fantastic advertising for them.

References

  1. http://www.aifs.gov.au/acssa/statistics.html
  2. http://www.aph.gov.au/library/intguide/SP/ViolenceAgainstWomen.htm
  3. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mf/4510.0?OpenDocument
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed-circuit_television


Some Thoughts on the Technology:

One of the ideas of night eyes would be to take the management of surveillance away from clubs, by streaming data to a central site for analysis, storage and backup. Another advantage of sending data to a central server is it becomes difficult to tamper with, lose or erase.

A crucial component of night eyes will be filming every person who walks into the club, everyone who walks out, and who they are with. Obviously it's not practical to see every dark corner of a nightclub, but I imagine each club should have at least one night vision per "bar area", overlooking as much of the area as possible.

The resolution of each camera should be sufficient to easy recognise faces, and with the help of face recognition and tracking software, help identify repeat offenders. I imagine each camera should be covered with a tinted dome, with the night eye logo, and the option for club owners to affix additional empty tinted domes (to act as dummies, or to rotate cameras later), to discourage questionable behavior in dark corners.

Perhaps one of the most advanced surveillance systems in operation are the closed-circuit television (CCTV) and "smart camera" systems in London. Although night eyes could potentially expand, and survey the streets of inner-city trouble spots, the most important feature of night-owl is to survey the entrance, and insides of the clubs themselves.


A Few Potential Issues

I've been living in Brisbane five years, so I'm actually not that aware of how many cameras they now have around Cairns! For all I know the surveillance is actually pretty good, so I'm wasting a couple of hours writing this document! Even if it's terrific however, I'm guessing clubs don't have little signs advertising their clubs as meeting standards, and I really think they should!

Concerning the adoption of this initiative: the government probably can't force clubs to install night eyes surveillance, and even if the system is completely free, many venues may hesitant to agree.

There are a lot of pubs and clubs out there who believe if they scare away the male patrons with security cameras, thus scare away their source of income. But let's face it, men are attracted to nightclubs full of women, and so really, clubs should be trying to attract women by saying, "maybe the club next door wasn't willing to pay a few hundred to help to keep you safe, but at this club we actually care".

Another important point is that many nightclubs and pubs may be afraid of the implications of having that much video evidence of what happens inside their clubs. And so the government and police might have to be a bit realistic here and realize yes, people sneak into clubs all the time with fake IDs or an ecstasy pill. If a clubs believe night eyes can be used against them, they simply won't agree to it. And it should be made clear the "club watch" is for major offences only (i.e. physical assault, homicide and sexual harassment). The idea isn't to go over surveillance with a fine comb and scrutinise wether the bar-tender gave alcohol to a patron who had had "too much already" - that's a pretty subjective call to begin with. However, if there is a violent dispute and a bouncer over-steps his mark, then yes, there should be repercussions for the offending bouncer. Use of unnecessary force by bouncers (and in some cases police officers) is yet another major problem I've observed which night eyes could help tackle.


The Name

The name of this initiative is obviously not as important as the initiative itself. Some of my suggestions for a good name include:

  • Nightclub watch ..... sounds similar to "neighbour hood watch"
  • Night watch ........ although shares same name as several films.
  • City guard ........ again, sound a bit common
  • Night eyes ....... my favourite as it sounds relatively friend and catchy.
Idea night eyes logo black.jpg

Obvious this name and logo is just an idea off the top of my head, but the trick is you want the logo to look fairly serious to the scumbags who start fights and prey on women, but at the same look reasonably friendly to those who abide the law, but might not appreciate the idea of a "big brother" watching their every move. I believe the beautiful but deadly Australian barn owl would do a nice job for this. Unlike most Australian owls, the barn owl often roosts quietly in the rafters of large sheds (hence the name "barn owl") and feeds primarily on mice and rats, which are both pests in Australia. A nocturnal creature, the barn own has superb night vision, and has almost perfectly silent flight as it swoops down on its prey.


Origins of this Idea

The idea of a "night eyes" - or more specifically "government approved video surveillance of nightclubs" is actually an idea I had around 2003, after a friend told me about having her drink spiked in an (unnamed) night club in Cairns. After an adverse reaction, she was rushed the intensive care unit of Cairns Base Hospital, where she very nearly died. She reported the incident, but police had no way to find out who had spiked her drink, and it's almost certain the individuals who did so are still out there. Another close friend of mine had a similar experience in an (unnamed) night club in inner Brisbane. It is very scary to think there are people using these date rape drugs, but the truly frightening thing is they are able to get away with it, again and again.

Like most people I enjoy the odd drink, going out clubbing with friends, and having a good night out. However, talking to female friends, particularly those I made through dancing, I have become aware of what a serious problem personal safety can be. Obviously this is not an idea I mean to make profit from, but I do want it to be given serious consideration.


How you can Help

If you like this idea, please contact me! Ultimate I'm hoping to find someone (whether it be a mother or club-goer) who feels strongly enough about this to help develop and champion it!