New features of the system

Created on: 2019-10-21 - Views: 1792
When we created the first version of this system, the idea was that once a person's car, motorcycle or truck was stolen, that they would go to the police station, open a case and with the case number in hand, go onto this website, register an account and then add the details of the vehicle. Once added, anyone else visiting this site would see the details and it would also pop up if someone does a search.

That is still the case today, however we needed to find a way to get info out quicker once captured in this system. That is why we created alerts.

Alerts lets any person out there register their email address on the website and when a new vehicle is added, they will automatically receive an email with the complete set of information of the stolen vehicle.

We also created a Telegram channel called Stolen Vehicles South Africa. ( Anyone can join this channel and receive instant notifications when vehicles are added.

By providing these 3 channels (the website, email alerts and the Telegram channel), we can get more people notified instantly without having to wait for approval by someone who might be busy with their real day job. We would recommend that all security companies, CPF and Neighborhood Watch members subscribe, and any person out their willing to help in the fight against these criminals.

In South Africa, there are various Twitter accounts as well as Facebook accounts that post information on stolen vehicles. This is great and I think it has definitely made it more difficult for criminals as they now need to act much faster because of how quickly messages can spread about the whereabouts and details of the vehicle.

However, the problem is this: Each of these accounts has a group of followers. When the details of a vehicle is posted to one of these accounts, only the followers of that account sees the information (unless they share, if allowed). Secondly, pretty much no one out there will remember the license plate number 5 minutes after they read about it on Twitter or Facebook.

That is why we developed another new feature called "BOLO". This means "Be on the lookout". Here, our system scans selected Twitter accounts every couple of minutes and picks up all tweets which contain certain key words. If all the required keywords are found in the tweet, we import the tweet into our database, make the information visible under the BOLO section of the website and send out the alerts via email and the Telegram channel.

This has lead to the website acting as a massive funnel, collecting information from various individual sources and storing it all in one central database. Instead of checking various online platforms to see if a vehicle is stolen, a person now only has to go to one place, this website.

When a person does a search for license plate, engine or VIN number on this website, the system will first check to see if the details of this particular vehicle was captured through this website, and return the result. If not, it will then check the BOLO section and return any information, if a match is found.

Since the launch of the BOLO feature on the 31st of August 2019, we have already imported over 350 alerts of stolen vehicles. This shows the power of the internet and creating smart solutions to existing problems. And we are just getting started.