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Ngee Ann Poly team’s crime alert signboard saves time

The prototype Electronic-Crime Alert Signage Board system features a mobile application that allows users to type and customise messages such as type of crime, location, and time and date.

SINGAPORE: Updating messages on the many crime alert signboards around the island can be time-consuming, but a new system designed by a group of students and their lecturers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) could change that, by allowing the police to remotely and almost instantaneously update the boards with a few taps on a mobile phone.

Conceptualised for a final-year project at the suggestion of the police last April, the prototype Electronic-Crime Alert Signage Board system features a mobile application – that can only be accessed by authorised police officers and which works on Android phones – and an electronic signage board that can receive messages.

The app allows users to type and customise messages in categories such as type of crime, location and time and date. Upon hitting send, the message will be read by a microcontroller on the board and then displayed on the board for the public to view.

“We created this device to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the current signature boards,” said Dr Li Yan, 35, a lecturer at NP’s School of Engineering. “With this device, the police don’t have to manually change the message. It is very troublesome, especially if they forget to bring certain letters (to the site).”

Asked why the system was designed to work on mobile devices, Dr Li said: “The advantages of using a mobile application are its mobility and portability. Furthermore, mobile devices are commonly used.”

The team behind the system are now looking at making modifications to the board. They include adding a tracking device to prevent tampering, waterproofing it with acrylic glass and building in an audio function so it can broadcast announcements.

The device could also be modified to run on solar power, instead of the current wired power supply and battery. The production cost of the board is about S$1,000.

The device clinched the Merit Award and Most Popular Award at the Security Awareness for Everyone (SAFE) competition held by the Ministry of Home Affairs last year. “The students worked very hard and were very motivated from the start. I am satisfied that the students performed very well,” said Dr Li.

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