ICT Systems in Everyday Life: Your Local Community
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Brent, in north-west London is a place where a lot of robberies occur. ‘latest crime statistics reveal that burglaries in London have also slightly reduced (by 2.8%); robberies, unfortunately, have increased (by 6.2%)’. The population of Brent is 267,741and between April 2005- March 2006 the total number of offences committed were 32.8 (per 1000) this is a lot higher than the average for England/Wales which is 25.775 (per 1000). It is also a large multi-culture area with many ethnic groups that make it up. In accordance to the national census in 2001, the Borough of Brent has the country’s highest percentage of people born outside of the UK (46.53%) It has a population of 263,464 according to this census. With a total area of 4325 hectares and 60.9 people per hectare, we can see that Brent is a significant borough in London. With 12 libraries, 60 primary schools and 15 secondary schools, Brent has a substantial education service. The facilities in Brent are acceptable, but to make Brent better for the upcoming Wembley Stadium and 2012 Olympics, things will have to be improved. Technology in the borough can provide a solution to Brent’s problems.
THE NEEDS OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
The population of Brent is 267,741 and there are many problems in Brent, varying from robberies to lack of activities for the young. The first main problem in so there is a need for more crime prevention and safety in the area more CCTV cameras could reduce crime in the area; more alarms in homes could also help. In my opinion the roads are safe enough and there is no need for more crossings, traffic lights, speed cameras etc.
Another problem in Brent is the increasing amount of youth crime. Crime committed by people under the age of 18 is spiraling out of control in Brent. The offences performed by underage boys and girls, is nearly 1/3 higher than the national average. There are many youth services to ‘distract’ youths and get them off the road and into safer places. Clearly these services are not sufficient enough to stop them committing these crimes. To distract youths and stop them from getting in trouble with the police, there are many ways technology can help out.
Internet can be used to stop these people. However, there is a lack of households with stable internet connections and hardly any professional cyber cafes, so there is a need for professional cyber cafes and internet technology in the Brent area.
Another problem, in Brent, lies with the banks. With many people working from early in the morning, to late in the night, they can’t get access to banks. On weekends, lines at the bank are unbearable, especially for anyone just simply trying to withdraw cash. Anyone who lives far away from a bank cannot withdraw money from the banks ATM’s. Often, even these ATM’s aren’t working. Here, we can see that there is a clear need for separate ATM’s in the Brent district.
In Brent, 38.2% of the population use public transport, like the Tube or buses, to get to and from work. This substantial amount may suffer from many delays, beyond their control. Delays for people, who use these transport services in Brent, especially at night, can cause a lot of hassle. People not knowing when the next train or bus will be arriving can lead to frustration. There is a need for technologies which can help show the passenger when the next vehicle is about to arrive. In Brent, there are a lot of confused customers and they need more countdowns to keep them aware of delays and advances.
TECHNOLOGY 1: CCTV (Closed Circuit Television)
Closed circuit television (CCTV) is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific, limited set of monitors. It differs from broadcast television where the signal is openly transmitted, even though CCTV may employ point-to-point-wireless links. Because of this CCTV is often used for surveillance in areas which need security, such as banks, casinos, and airports or military installations. Increasing use of CCTV in public places has caused debate over public security versus privacy. In industrial plants, CCTV equipment may be used to observe parts of a process that are remote from a control room, or where the environment is not comfortable for humans. CCTV systems may operate continuously or only as required to monitor a particular event.
EXPLANATION OF ITS USE:
CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) is a visual surveillance technology designed for monitoring a variety of environments and activities. CCTV systems typically involve a fixed (or “dedicated”) communications link between cameras and monitors. The limits of CCTV are constantly extended. Originally installed to deter burglary, assault and car theft, in practice most camera systems have been used to combat ‘anti-social behavior’, including many such minor offences as littering, urinating in public, drunkenness, and evading meters in town parking lots. They have also been widely used to intervene in other ‘undesirable’ behaviour such as underage smoking and a variety of public order transgressions. Other innovative uses are constantly being discovered.
The modern CCTV system involves a linked system of cameras with full pan, tilt, and zoom able to be operated remotely from a control room. All this could help solve the needs of the community by surveying the ATMs to stop people accessing other people’s accounts. The first CCTV system was installed by Siemens AG at Test Stand VII in Peenemï¿½nde Germany in 1942, for observing the launch of V2-rockets. The noted German engineer Walter Bruch was responsible for the design and installation of the system. CCTV recording systems are often used at launch sites to record the flight of the rockets, in order to find the possible causes of malfunctions. Larger rockets are often fitted with CCTV allowing pictures of stage separation to be transmitted back to earth by radio link. CCTV is also used to observe the launch pad before the launch, especially when no person may be there because of safety reasons
Evaluation of the technology
Now I will assess how well the technology meets the needs of the community. The advantages of the technology are: security, a feeling of safety and evidence if something may happen. The disadvantage of the technology is that most people complain. It meets the needs of the community well, because it meets the point of reducing the amount if people that access other people’s accounts. However it does not meet the needs community well because it can do nothing about the lack of public transport. It could be improved by making them more discreet in order to meet the needs better.
TECHNOLOGY 2: INTERNET CAF
The second technology that Brent requires is professional cyber cafes, or internet cafes, as they are called in the UK. These are places where the public can use the internet or emailing services for a fee, usually charged by the hour or minute. There are many internet cafes located around Brent, but many have slow running computers and are generally unpleasant to visit. According to the Brent website, there are no licensed internet cafes in Wembley, where the heart of the problems lies.
Internet cafes are primarily two things; coffee and Wi-Fi networking. An internet cafï¿½ works uses LAN (Local Area Network) which allows many computers to be connected the internet using few routers, similarly to a small office. Most hi-tech internet cafes use WLAN (Wireless Local Area Connection) which is basically Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity). This means that customers can use the internet without internet wires connecting between computers, instead connected using radio waves. This gives a more high-tech feel to an internet cafï¿½ and offers people something they would probably not use at home.
Internet cafes use a vast amount of technology, meaning the slightest fault could stop the whole procedure and cause a break-down. For example, if the Wi-Fi was connection was lost for any reason, connection between ALL computers would be lost and may take some time to regain the link.
Internet cafes sell food or snacks on the premises, ranging from drinks to pastries. These items, however, can be very expensive and not always healthy. The prices of using the internet for an hour vary from 50p to ï¿½3.00. These prices can be seen as quite expensive for simply checking e-mails.
Internet can also be found in Brent’s libraries for no fee at all, however, these are not open for long hours, as internet cafes would be. Often these computers have been damaged and internet connections are not always stable. Internet cafes can provide youths with entertainment which could keep them from doing harm to the society.
With Brent’s high crime being one the highest in the country, internet cafes can be seen as another source for vandalism. Computers and internet technology provide targets for these criminals and can be damaged, when there is no supervision.
However, it seems that internet may not keep many young criminals off the streets as it is not a good enough distraction for them. It meets the needs of the society in terms of providing more internet technologies for the borough. But, when it comes to tackling the main issue of youth crime, it seems that putting internet cafes into action would be useless. So the implementation of cyber cafes in the Brent region is clearly not the answer.
TECHNOLOGY 3: ATM’S AND ONLINE BANKING
There is currently a shortage of banks in the borough with many of the banks not having proper ATM’s in them. Banks often have large queues in them, especially after work hours and on week-ends, when most people wish to use a bank. ATM’s can allow customers to withdraw cash, up to ï¿½300, with the use of their unique bank card and personal PIN number. When the card is inserted the computer inside, which works like an average PC, it is processed. The magnetic strip, containing all the required information, routes the transaction to the cardholder’s bank. The information is sent to the host computer through a telephone network. This is further passed through a telephone network to the bank computer, where the information is verified and cash is dispensed after making sure the Personal Identification Number is correct.
ATM’s can provide an easy solution to people wanting to take out money, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. ATM’s are a valuable part of society. They provide many advantages for the local community and banks. Recent studies showed that ATM’s are one of the most important conveniences in life. With increasing spending, cash machines seem a fundamental part of daily life. With only 1.2 million installed worldwide, and even a more insignificant proportion in Brent, ATM’s are clearly needed.
ATM’s provide help for the bank as there is less staff required to deal with requests of cash withdrawal. This staffs are not required and the money saved on wages can be used for improving other facilities of the bank. Another aspect is the advantage for tourists. After activating their card from abroad, they can easily take money out from any cash machine.
However, cash machines also carry disadvantages to them. The main worry surrounding cash machines is fraud. There are several ways in which a person can commit fraud with an ATM. The most common and simple is theft. Watching over the shoulder of a person entering their PIN and then stealing the card to withdraw as much money as they please. This has tried to be combated by banks, by warning users to check who is looking at them and placing cash privacy zones.
With many other techniques of fraud, there is a growing fear of it in banks. This is shown clearly with banks setting a limit of normally 300, per day. With Brent having high crime rates, there is increased pressure for banks to avoid vandalism and keep their machines running. A lack of ATM’s could lead to people opting to use other forms of accessing their accounts, like online banking.
Online banking, similarly to ATM’s, has many advantages. Online banking makes life easier for the customer of the bank. For example, if they have lost a chequebook, they can order a new one from the bank website, rather than going to their branch to do so. This also means less waiting in banks and important issues can be more easily dealt with because of online banking.
Another advantage is for businesses in Brent. High transaction speeds means that more money can be moved from one account to the other and quickly. Businesses can deal with money problems that may arise from any corner of the world and portability. A mobile bank account can be advantageous for businesses or anyone with invested money in Brent.
However, online banking possesses many problems. Brent has one of the highest immigration rates out of all UK boroughs. Many people from less economically developed countries find themselves in Brent, with no clue of how to use any form of technology. Even to an expert navigating through a banking site is difficult, but very difficult for the elderly or technophobes. So with using a banking website, comes a learning curve.
Also many people find that they cannot trust an online version to deal with their finances. With doubts of hackers, people avoid using this to access their accounts. Security of a website can easily be checked with a glance at the toolbar. A web address containing ‘https’ instead of ‘http,’ symbolises that the application is safe to use. A diagram of a lock, on the bottom right of the internet window also shows that hackers cannot access these records. However, distrust will always remain and some people will still use banks to access their accounts.
To solve the problem of lack of banking methods in Brent and long queues in banks, both techniques are effective. ATM’s can help customers withdraw money and internet banking can allow customers to check account balance and many other features of their accounts. Both technologies should be put in place by banks to counteract the problems faced by several banks in Brent. The instigation of such measures should be positive and solve the dilemma.
TECHNOLOGY 4: COUNTDOWNS
At the moment, buses and trains have a very unstable service, with the renovation of many parts of Brent. Road works and rail repairs are becoming more familiar in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. Passengers wishing to use public transport find themselves stuck not knowing when the next tube train or bus will arrive.
With so many tubes stations and bus stand across Brent, and only 2,000 countdowns in London, you can never know when the next bus will arrive. Countdowns in Brent would help to take the guesswork out of waiting for buses, as passengers know exactly when their next bus will arrive. Currently, in Brent there are not that many countdowns and Wembley finds itself short of these systems.
Countdown is an electronic information display system that gives people waiting at bus stops real-time information on bus arrival times. The system shows, in order, when the next buses will arrive. In addition it shows their destinations, bus number and estimated time of arrival.
The system works as each bus or train is fitted with a technology which allows a central system to receive regular updates from each form of transport about its current location. At the central monitoring station, the operators can tell precisely where a bus or train is. This information is sent to bus shelters and train platforms via GPRS, the same technology that mobile phones use.
There are many advantages to this technology. This system can provide an accurate and helpful insight, which is to the benefit of passengers who use TFL (Transport for London) services. The Countdowns are also capable of displaying special messages about traffic delays or planned road works. This provides the user more options about the public services and lets them make an informed decision about what form of transport to use.
However, these Countdowns can be expensive to set up and put in place. Maintenance is hard to keep up with, as many machines break down very often. Staff is also required twenty-four hours of the day to man the main monitoring station, which also requires a lot of money.
As it is a government scheme, money can be deducted from taxes collected. Many people will be willing to have some money deducted to pay for the up-keep of these machines. They provide a valuable asset to the normal worker and can solve the need of timed buses and trains in the Brent area.
Brent would benefit from new technologies because they would solve majority of the difficulties that Brent encounters. A speed camera network would solve the problem of road deaths and injuries. ATM’s, alongside online banking facilities could stop queues in banks and provide easier options for bank users. Countdowns being placed on all train platforms and bus shelters can be of profit to help people plan their journeys en route for work in Brent.
Even though internet cafs would probably not solve youth crime, they would increase the attractiveness of Brent and make it a more technologically advanced place.
Brent is a borough created in 1965, yet its component parts are derived from hamlets which began as self-supporting communities in forest clearings, some of which date back as far as the Dark Ages. Since then, the technology has VASTLY improved and now it is the answer to most of Brent’s problems.