“Island Watch”

| 24/06/2011

On behalf of a friend of mine I am trying to drum up some interest in an imaginative new crime-fighting idea. He believes the concept of “Neighbourhood Watch” could be extended to an Island-wide community-alert initiative that he calls “Island Watch”.

The plan is to take advantage of the fact that almost everybody in Cayman has a mobile phone of some sort, which they carry with them at all times (especially while dealing with supermarket cashiers and bank tellers, unfortunately, but never mind…) Those phones could be the means of mobilising the carriers to help deter or catch criminals – robbers and muggers in particular.

Victims or eye-witnesses of robberies and muggings can’t do much besides call 9-1-1. The people at the other end authenticate each call as best they can, and then pass the caller on to the police. End of story, pretty much. The police react as best they can, using their own resources. An “Island Watch” program would, on receipt of a similar report, immediately send a text message to every cellphone in Cayman with a description of the suspects and their getaway vehicle and the direction they took off in.

With luck, and ideally, the suspects and their car would be tracked wherever they went. Follow-up reports would keep the communications base informed, and the base would pass the news on to all the cellphones. Allowing for authentication delays, feedback would be very, very quick.

Nobody would be urged to be a hero and chase after the bad guys shouting “Not today, bo-bo!” They would let their cellphones do the chasing. The Watchers would do what the police don’t have the manpower to do. You get the picture, I hope.

There are three major problems that I can see standing between the vision and the achievement. Those are authentication, anonymity and defamation. I invite readers now to suggest how each might be dealt with.

Authentication: How could Island Watch’s communications base (HQ) quickly ensure that all reports it receives and sends (by text, not by voice) were reliable?

Defamation: How could Island Watch best protect innocent parties from defamation either deliberate or accidental? And, protect itself from lawsuits, of course!

Anonymity: All Watchers might be interested in receiving crime-alerts, but if only a couple of brave souls ever texted in reports to HQ the whole Island Watch program would be futile. Cellphones are famously easy to trace – at least according to all the TV shows. Portable computers might be more difficult, though not impossible; and anyway not everybody carries them.

The general public regularly expresses its dissatisfaction of existing crime-prevention procedures and programs; an “Island Watch” might succeed in filling a gap. I hope everyone reading this will help turn the idea into reality.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    there are many places in the states that have what is called a 'reverse 911' so when there is an emergency a call goes out to let the public know what has happened and what they should do. ie. a fire with dangerous gas-stay inside, an armed person in the area-be aware…

    these calls are automatic for land lines and with cell phones, you have to have your number added to the call list

    something like this could work here, too ~ 



  2. Anonymous says:

    Arm the Police.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant idea.  Where can i sign up?  One other thing to note however is that a lot of individuals carry company owned phones which could present a problem especially if litigation is involved.

    • anonymous says:


      come better than that!  Photos of the bastard need to be taken and sent to the Judiciary, lest it disappear at the RCIP station! At least the Judiciary and the prosecution would have a photo for the jurors to identify the rat!

      Also an email where the photos can be sent anonymous.'Cause you know how these long tongue police talk too much and give up the citizens to the criminals who run loose!

  4. Anonymous says:

    How about expand crime stoppers to have a number to text or a bbm PIN?


    When an individual texts it to crime stoppers (or whoever is designated) the message is sent out to all cell users on island whether Digicel or Lime.  Unfortunately this will also go to the criminals, though it does encourage the community to get involved.



    • Anonymous says:

      To keep anonymity how about expand this option to have a messenger for crimestoppers or whoever…suchas caymanwatch at hotmail, at gmail, at yahoo.  That way people can remain a bit more anonymous depending on what messenger they choose to use to send the information.  Also it provides the crimestoppers a way to communicate back and forth in the event that the information is not enough or they need clarification.


      Facebook/twitter etc. is another idea to send out mass information however I doubt users would want to post or send information from their own accounts.

  5. Anonymous says:

    excellent idea – …

    let technology bring down the criminals…

    every citizen has a duty to report – if they are to witness to fleeing criminals… 

    remember, the crime was committed against your brother or sister… and we are all brothers and sisters…



  6. Anonymous says:

    Great idea Gordon (and friend) how about the police, crime stoppers, Digicel and Lime working on this. Pretty much everyone carries a phone now and if they received a text to look for a certain car, person etc…. it would likely help a lot. Think of how successful things like the Amber Alerts in the US are.

  7. Anonymous says:

    At last something of a positive contribution from Barlow. It has indeed been tiring to read his constant complaining and destructive criticism in another publication.

    • Gordon Barlow says:

      What a shame you and your friends had to make it personal. The "anonymous" facility provided by this website is meant to protect posters from being victimised in any way. It's not meant for cowards to hide behind while making personal attacks. What you have done is discourage other posters from using their own names. Hmm. Oh well… I see where you're coming from, I guess.

      CNS: Gordon, the personal attackshave been deleted. This was a comment about your commentaries.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well done CNS.

        Clearly it is time that people look at the wording of a post more carefully and not take it so personal. The facts are clear and indisputable and can stand the test of time.

        Introspection is a virtue.

    • Anonymous says:

      And yet another example of why it won't work well in Cayman.  It would take training people like this to have a chance.  Not going to happen.

      • Anonymous says:

        What make you think that the person who wrote this is not well educated?

        Perhaps it is indeed the absence of comprehension of the objective opinion of the writer that is missing.

  8. noname says:

    Wow!  What a concept!  People geting together to take care of themselves!  Talk about the ultimate crime watch.  To work at least half of the people will need to be watchers instead of watchees.  And current Government leadership will be scared.   Good luck.

  9. Garth Humphreys says:

    Overall I think it interesting to try to tackle the crime issue via mobile… but the idea suggested is dependent on quite a lot to work all together at the same time to help stop crime. I doubt a lot of ppl that witness a crime or have been robbed would think of using a mobile app to text the details of the robbers. I think it's more natural for ppl to call the police, then call a loved one.

    I do think however that once the police have the info they should use Lime & Digicel to send a text message of the details. Sure, it's not as fast as "when it happens" but overall the police, the victim's anonymity and any legal issues would be covered.

  10. cow itch says:

    i was just thinking a "gun watch" would be effective. text three mask robbers… whoever shoots, gets a ticket to disney world and free hotel accomadations