The County of Grande Prairie has kicked off a 12 month program with The Beaverlodge District Rural Crime Watch and Lightcatch. This program is expected to help reduce rural crime rates and increase community safety by providing a free app and free additional services that County residents can use to prevent or stop crime.
‘We know that rural crime is an issue and are thrilled to launch this pilot project today,” said Leanne Van Wagner, President, Beaverlodge District Rural Crime Watch. “This tool is available to all residents in the County of Grande Prairie so we can collectively increase safety in our community and reduce crime rates.”
The Lightcatch app allows residents to report crime instantly using their mobile phones or security systems. Reports can be made with video, photos, and descriptions. When the report is created, app users in the area are notified of the crime in progress through a map that shows the incident location and their proximity to it. All input is anonymous to protect user’s safety. Calls to 911 are still required, and every input on the app prompts users to call 911 if they have not already done so.
“The benefit of crime warnings is that the public is able to support law enforcement with hundreds of extra eyes should a crime occur,” said Darren Boyer, CEO, Lightcatch. “In cases of theft, we have seen communities increase their arrest success rate from 26 to 80 per cent. This means criminals are failing 80 per cent of the time and repeat offenders are more likely to quit, go to jail or move.”
In cases of theft, we have seen communities increase their arrest success rate from 26 to 80 per cent.
Boyer says the app is used mostly for suspicious activity warnings, before a crime occurs. But it has also been used for dangerous driving reports, dangerous offender warnings, missing people, cougar sightings, and even missing horses. Reducing crime is the ultimate goal of the program but the results depend on community engagement levels.
“This is the future of crime reduction and we have it right here in the County of Grande Prairie,” said Van Wagner. “However, it will only be successful if people actually use it. The pilot project starts today so, don’t delay, get the app today.”
To download the app, go to the app store on your mobile device and search Lightcatch. Once downloaded, sign up and set your personal alert locations, like home and work. You will only receive alerts for activity that takes place inside your circles.
This spring, an Ambassador will be hired by the Beaverlodge District Crime Watch to provide app education sessions and property security best practices for residents and industry.
The County of Grande Prairie identified Safe Communities as a Strategic Theme in the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and is funding this 12-month pilot project. Project outcomes will be reported to County Council on a quarterly basis.
“Crime is not an issue that one organization can manage alone,” said Reeve Leanne Beaupre. “We need community members and partners to help tackle it. Our hope is that this pilot project is effective in reducing our crime rates and increasing feelings of safety and security for our residents.”
Beaverlodge District Rural Crime Watch members act as the eyes and ears for law enforcement in their community.
Free benefits are provided to people who live or work in the County of Grande Prairie
Information Sessions, introducing those benefits will be available online and in person. Register to attend.
The first free session will be on Thursday May 27. 2021 @ 7pm.
How is the project funded?
The County of Grande Prairie has provided funding for this 12-month pilot project. This project aligns with the County’s Strategic Theme of “Safe Communities”.
Who is leading this project?
The project is led by the Beaverlodge District Rural Crime Watch Association in partnership with Lightcatch Network Inc.
What areas of the County are included in this pilot project?
Although it is the Beaverlodge District Rural Crime Watch Association leading the project, the project applies to the entire County of Grande Prairie.
When does the pilot project start?
The pilot project launched on May 10, 2021 and will end on May 9, 2022.
Who can receive the free benefits of this program?
The pilot program benefits are available to all people who live or work in the County of Grande Prairie. Information sessions can be scheduled for industry groups, non-profit groups, and community groups within the County of Grande Prairie. Register your organization here to schedule an education sessions.
How will this app reduce crime? Had it been successful elsewhere?
This pilot program tackles rural crime at several levels. First, it can give all the public and first responders clear images and video of what to look for if that is provided in the alert. Currently 911 services do not receive images or video.
Second, by enabling the entire community to also be aware of a crime in progress the public’s ability to support law enforcement increases significantly. Crowdsourcing is a proven method to increase the accuracy and efficiency of results and it is now being applied to crime prevention.
The Ambassador program will also work with the community to improve the quality of information provided. Over 95% of alerts created by the public on social media are missing key information. Proven claims are mixed in with unproven claims and unfiltered comments. Our Operations team will work with app users to improve and edit their input so the best data quality possible is available to the public. The Operations team also actively rates the quality of users input on the platform as well as removing unproductive content 24x7.
Lightcatch will also be providing feedback to County Council and residents how effective their efforts are. These results will be compared to the most effective 9 Counties using Lightcatch as well as to other rural regions who are getting lower results than those 9 Counties.
How do I get the app?
To download the app, go to the app store on your mobile device and search Lightcatch. Once downloaded, sign up and set your personal alert locations, like home and work. You will only receive alerts for activity that takes place inside your circles. Download links for iPhone and Android users are also on the home page of www.lightcatch.net
How do I use the app?
When you see a crime in progress, you will open the app, touch the + symbol and report a crime or suspicious activity by providing the location, time and any photos or video as well as other useful information, including stolen item information, if applicable, and whether the police have been notified. Once you create the report, others with alerts set for this area will receive a notification. There are more instructions on how to use the app at www.lightcatch.net by choosing Guides from the main menu.
Do I need to keep my location on for the app to function properly?
Locations services do not need to be always on with Lightcatch. If you have set your locations within the app of areas you want to be notified about, you will get notifications for alerts in that area.
How will you know if the pilot project is a success?
Success will be measured by looking at overall crime levels and comparing them to previous years to see if they have been lowered. Community engagement levels will also be measured. Higher community engagement across the County of Grande Prairie will also indicate residents are getting value from the program as well.