Graff app tackles vandalism

Glenorchy City Council in Tasmania has come up with a novel approach to the perennial issue of graffiti vandalism with the development of an app that collects data and provides vital information to the police.

Previously, Council had tackled the issue of graffiti in a variety of ways; however there had never been a system in place to record and document graffiti before it was removed.

Now, prior to cleaning an incident of graffiti, field crews document it using an app that is installed on their phones. The data collected includes an image, a location, the length of time spent cleaning the graffiti, the date and time, and the type of graffiti (pen, spray paint or stencil, for example).

The data, once it has been logged and uploaded, can be accessed or downloaded from a cloud-based repository or viewed in a GIS.

Glenorchy City Council Mayor, Aldermen Stuart Slade, said that Council had worked closely with Tasmania Police to develop the system. 

“Tasmania Police now have live access to the data via a web map, including high resolution images, and the data can be called upon to bolster cases if the need arises,” he said.

The system was set up using Open Data Kit (ODK) — an open-source cloud-based platform for setting up forms and collecting and storing data. Once configured, forms can be downloaded onto a standard Android-based phone or tablet and the data that is collected can be uploaded directly from
the device.

Since the introduction of the new system, Glenorchy City Council field crews have documented over 40 incidents a week. All of the data has been provided to Tasmania Police in real-time via a live Google Maps environment.

“The program has been very successful. It was taken up rapidly, with very little training required, and the ongoing costs are negligible. Aside from staff time collecting data, there is no need for additional resources to maintain the system,” said Aldermen Slade.