Putting the ‘byte’ on crime

Putting the 'Byte' on Crime


Ornamental burglar-proofing, dogs and the sleeping spouse have long been the conventional crime prevention tools available to homeowners. The explosion of digital communications has unleashed a new set of tools available to the public where the ‘byte’ is proving to be just as effective as the bark.

The success story behind this is how Blink Vigilance has managed to expand the functionality of modern communications to serve a practical need of homeowners and businesses.

“Trinidad and Tobago has one of the highest penetrations of cellular phones in the world. There is no reason why technology should not be playing a greater role in helping to address some of the major day to day issues facing ordinary citizens” says Darryl Duke, Head of Blink Vigilance, the alarm monitoring service of telecoms provider TSTT. It is that philosophy that has propelled this fledgling service into the fastest growing security related business in Trinidad and Tobago in just under two years.

Blink Vigilance has been able to use proven technology to make home alarm monitoring affordable. “Before our operations started, there were fewer than 3000 homes across the country being monitored by other security providers. Two months ago, we celebrated the milestone of being used in over 12,000 homes and offices throughout Trinidad and Tobago” stated Duke. Growing a market by over 400% in two years has a simple explanation. “The reason for the success is not just the affordability. BLINK Vigilance works. It’s as simple as that.”

Duke said that BLINK Vigilance runs in part on the bmobile cellular network and technology does not take a rest. He noted that over 80% of alarms requiring help involved burglaries or homeowners otherwise being under threat. The wireless communications between the home or business and the 24/7 Blink Vigilance Command Centre means there are no wires for would-be intruders to cut and compromise the system. “There is also a built-in backup power supply in the alarm sets so even if the public electricity fails within a community, homes and offices are still being monitored.”

In 2011, Blink Vigilance prevented over 400 potentially life threatening encounters with burglars and other intruders at customers’ premises. “That is over 400 stories with happy endings that the public did not have to read about in the news” quips Duke. In fact, some of those encounters ended very well, with the perpetrators being apprehended at the scene and placed into police custody.

Duke related a recent incident involving a customer in Maracas St. Joseph who alerted the Command Centre around 11:40PM on June 3rd that an intruder was in his yard, had damaged his vehicles and was at the time attempting to break into the home. “Kudos to the customer for remaining calm throughout the process and to the Rapid Response team for getting to the residence while the intruder was still there. They were able to subdue the intruder until the police arrived to arrest him and take statements from the Blink Vigilance customer.” Duke says that in its short history, Blink Vigilance has encountered a number of similar experiences. Some situations required only subduing the intruders but others required more force from Rapid Response squads before the perpetrators were arrested. “Fortunately the loud sound of the alarm has been enough in a majority of cases to scare intruders away so confrontations are minimised. Nonetheless it is our role to take the battle to the wrongdoer and spare the customer that trauma.”

Home invasions and burglaries are not the only risk Blink Vigilance protects against. Duke said that 14% of Blink Vigilance interventions last year were for fire and medical emergencies. “When you have dozens of families being spared the worst by having our Blink Vigilance team to support them during very difficult and sometimes chaotic moments, it makes a huge difference to their peace of mind”.

In evaluating the performance of Blink Vigilance, Duke says that there is much to be said for the strategic deployment of technology. “Digital communications have proven to be an important, inexpensive first line of defence for homeowners. We have made it possible to keep a fully operational alarm system at your home with 24/7 professional Command Centre support, for as little as $7.00 per day.” Duke says that data is the new tool of choice for crime prevention. “It is a platform on which both Blink Vigilance and our customers can meet and it allows customers to interact with the service anywhere in the world that has cellular and Internet service.”