The Real Idea takes off

Men setting up the new call centre for the Real Idea project at Square Hill community hall.

The Real Idea, a community project initiated by the Retreat Steenberg Civic Association, is making progress after funds were allocated by the City of Cape Town for two CCTV cameras.

The two cameras installed at two crime hot spots in Retreat will soon be linked to a call centre, currently being constructed, in the storeroom of the Square Hill community hall, in Allenby Drive, Retreat.

The call centre will have an assistant to monitor the visuals, and if a crime is spotted on camera it will be reported directly to SAPS or the Metro police.

The proposed site for the call centre was originally at the old Shawco building in Retreat. However, plans changed and the building is occupied by the Department of Social Development.

The civic asssociation gave birth to the Real Idea in 2012 and Southern Mail has been covering its progress since.

The idea for the project came about after an increase in crime, unemployment, the lack of opportunities for the youth and recreation facilities not being available.

The Real Idea does not only focus on combatting crime but also on preventing it.

Mark Solomons, chairperson of the civic association, said the project aims to create a central point of communication for the community.

“This is a platform for social needs such as downloading your CV or advertising your home business and social events,” he said.
It will keep the community connected and create job opportunities through fundraising, while using the proceeds for the maintenance of the camera system.
Mr Solomons said the community can use the call centre as a response unit for any emergency as well. “If your cat gets stuck in a tree, we will have men standing by to help out.”

He said when children are alone at home after school they can call the centre as well if they are in need.

In 2013 those driving the Real Idea project embarked on a membership card system drive. The card has a unique member number that will be logged on to the civic’s website, set up from the call centre. If a member phones the centre to report criminal activities, they will stay anonymous but will still be be registered on the civic’s system.

Crime can then be reported to the police. “Bear in mind no recorded footage will be stored at the call centre. It can only be obtained at the police,” said Mr Solomons.

“The next step is to get together and show the community how the camera system works. It will be a pilot project and we are looking at finishing the call centre in two to three weeks. Then we will invite the residents to a demonstration to see how the system works. The Real Idea project belongs to the community, and their input is vital.”

Meanwhile, Mr Solomons said the project will need 10 people associated with a neighbourhood watch who would like to go on a security training course. “We will need them to get involved in monitoring the camera system.”
If all goes well, said Mr Solomons, then the residents will have a chance to meet again to brainstorm on how to organise the launch of the Real Idea.
For more information or if anyone wants to assist or join the Real Idea, contact Mr Solomons on 082 258 7944.