Rural policing and Disc

Rural policing and Disc

Disc systems are established in more than 500 towns and city-centres throughout the country. Now police forces are adopting Disc to support their rural crime reduction efforts.

Disc dominates in urban crime reduction schemes throughout the country, mainly addressing low-level crime in the retail and hospitality sectors, and public-realm ASB, many of which using Disc to manage local exclusion schemes.

Now Disc is moving to the country.  To date three police forces have already chosen Disc to support their rural crime reduction efforts, with a fourth shortly to join the Disc network.

Two adjoining forces have adopted Disc to share information and enable online crime among rural businesses, including farms, smaller out-of-town industrial estates – even churches.  A third force has implemented Disc as part of its national role in leading on illegal country ‘sporting’ events, using Disc for communicating, and sharing information, with other rural crime-reduction officers in police forces across the country.

Rural areas experience many of the same types of low-level crime as towns and city-centres, such as shoplifting and ASB associated with licensed premises.  But they also suffer from rural-specific crime such as firearms incidents, fly-tipping, illegal fishing, livestock rustling and worrying, wildlife crime, poaching and hare coursing to name only a few.

Low-level rural crime also differs from urban crime in the nature of evidence available.  CCTV is commonplace in the countryside, but clear facial images of offenders are rare; in retail and licenced environments CCTV provides good facial images. And banning schemes are impractical across extensive rural areas.

But Disc has proved itself invaluable in rural areas to enable victims of low-level crime to report incidents to the police, access images of known and/or travelling offenders, and to share news and alerts about rural crime to help pre-empt it, or ‘target-harden’ premises.

All Disc systems are designed to be autonomous and administrated locally – whether across a town or a city-centre, or a more extensive rural area.  But they can each be networked together to enable effective and compliant information-sharing across multiple Disc systems – whether that’s current awareness information news and alerts, or images of offenders.

Research proves effectiveness of BIDs in driving down business crime

Research proves effectiveness of BIDs in driving down business crime

New research demonstrates that Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are highly effective in reducing low-level business crime and Anti-Social Behaviour in their areas, and that the more they do, the more substantial are the benefits to levy-payers. Indeed, by analysing only the number of crimes reported to police, the report substantially underestimates the positive impact that the most active BIDs make in business crime reduction.

The Impact of Business Improvement Districts on Crime considers the crime-reduction achievements of BIDs established between 2012-2017, comparing them with crime levels before their creation, and with those achieved by 38 BIDs established between 2018 and 2019.

Looking at data showing the number of crimes reported to police in these areas, the report shows that, following the creation of the BIDs, the number of reported crimes fell by an average of between 10 and 11 in every three-month period.

The report, written by Giulia Faggio of City University, London, shows that BIDs with the most pro-active safety and security programmes achieved the highest levels of reduction, and that the highest levels were achieved by those that managed formal business crime reduction partnerships running banning and exclusion schemes.

Faggio’s research was based only on incidents of crime and ASB reported to police.  Since this represents only a small proportion of all criminal incidents in any BID area, it is certain that her findings, while showing a significant reduction of crime, substantially under-state the real levels of crime reduction achieved in these areas.

“Looking at the functioning of BIDs and their commitment to fighting crime”, writes Faggio in her report, “my research clearly indicates that it would be crucial for BIDs to adopt active or very active crime prevention measures. Simply relying on passive safety measures would not guarantee a decline in local crime.”

Faggio warns that BIDs are likely to face a number of challenges going forward including the impact of the ‘cost-of-living crisis’ on their levy-payers, as well as the changing nature of retailing and the resultant impact on traditional retail centres.  “UK BIDs have just carved out their own space among government and non-government organisations operating at the local level. The more effective UK BIDs will be in dealing with any of these challenges, the larger their future role will be” she says.

Download the full report, The Impact of Business Improvement Districts on Crime by Giulia Faggio, here.

Eighteen new Disc systems; thirteen new customers

Eighteen new Disc systems; thirteen new customers

We’re delighted to welcome thirteen new customers and to announce  a further five new Disc systems for existing customers.

New customers include five Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) – Andover, Newcastle NE1, My Milton Keynes, Weymouth and Wimborne – and four independent Business Crime Reduction Partnerships – Romford Safe & Sound, Tunbridge Wells Safe Town Partnership, Canterbury District Watch and Drypool Business Against Crime in Hull.

Other new customers include two large pubwatches, in Wrexham, North Wales and Walsall in the West Midlands.

We’re also delighted to extend our presence among policing, with two new police customers, both of which have implemented Disc to support their rural crime reduction initiatives.

Existing customers who have added additional Disc systems to their existing implementations include Chichester Business Against Crime, Derbyshire Business Crime Reduction Partnership (to cover its Derbyshire Dales & High Peak area), Loughborough BID, and Harrow BID which has upgraded from its existing stand-alone Disc systems to Disc SC (for ‘segregated content’).


Segregation solutions: Bolt-on Disc and Disc SC

Segregation solutions: Bolt-on Disc and Disc SC

As we discussed in our blog  To segregate or not to segregate you might want to segregate the information you share with your Members – not only to comply with Data Protection law but also to make your content more relevant and engaging for your Members. Here we focus on the Disc solutions which help you segregate your data easily…

Two options are available: a ‘bolt-on’ Disc system or Disc SC.

If you’re just running two schemes, for example, a night-time Pubwatch alongside a day-time Shopwatch scheme, and you decide to segregate the data between the two, a Disc bolt-on is likely your best option.

‘Bolting on’ a second Disc system to your existing Disc implementation provides you with separate Disc systems for each scheme.  Although they’re totally separate, they are networked together so the Administrator can toggle between them without having to log in and out.  As Administrator, you can add content to both systems from the same Admin Centre and access a single Dataview of Offenders and Incidents taken from both systems.

Because each system has its own Members, you can ensure that they only see the information – including Offenders’ personal data – which is relevant to them.  But any Members who belong to both schemes (for example, off-licences who might belong to your retail and your night-time schemes) can access both sets of data easily through the same Disc App and Desktop.

Each system can also be independently branded – for example one can be ‘Northtown Shopwatch’ and the other ‘Northtown Pubwatch’, each with its own logo.

If you’re likely to set up more than two segregated schemes, you can just keep on adding any number of bolt-on Disc systems.  But if you’re likely to want to support more than two or three in the foreseeable future, Disc SC may be a more cost-effective option.

Disc SC (for Segregated Content) is a single Disc system which can support literally any number of different schemes – whether segregated by geographical area (north, south, central etc) or by type of business (retail, licenced premises, hotel, transport service etc) – or any combination of both.

So, if you’re a BID that wants separate Shopwatch and Pubwatch schemes for retailers and licensees, but also wants to share data about individuals involved in general anti-social behaviour in public spaces with all levy-payers, Disc SC makes it easy to set up such a scheme, and manage it through the same Admin Centre that you use to manage the others.

With Disc SC there is no extra cost in setting up new schemes, so if you have ambitions to launch new Shopwatches, Pubwatches or any other kind of Watch-group in other geographical areas, you can do so without worrying about the cost – that’s often the difference between setting up new schemes and not setting them up!

There’s no limit to the number of schemes you can set up on one Disc SC system and each of them can be given different titles (Northtown Retail Reduction Group, Northtown Pubwatch and so on) However, with Disc SC, each scheme is presented under a common ‘umbrella’ identity, such as Northshire Against Business Crime and under the same logo.

Cost-wise, for an organisation that simply wants to support two segregated schemes, a standard Disc system plus a bolt-on will be the most cost-effective option.  For organisations that wish to support more than just a couple or three schemes, Disc SC will be the most appropriate from the point of view of cost.

If you want to know more, or to explore which option is best suited for you, contact us at, phone us on 01273 900468 or contact us through our Enquiry Form.

To segregate, or not to segregate?

To segregate, or not to segregate?

Under the law, Data Controllers are responsible for every aspect of the personal data under their management.  That includes who they share it with, so it’s essential that business crime reduction schemes understand ‘segregation’ of personal data.  What is ‘Segregated Content’ and how can Disc help?

As we explain in our Factsheet on Data Protection law and GDRP (click here to request a copy) business crime reduction schemes (BCRSs) must only share the personal data of offenders with Members who have a legitimate interest in that data – for example, to participate in banning or exclusion schemes or, more generally, where it is necessary for the protection of their premises, property, customers or staff.

Take a BCRS that supports both a Shopwatch and Pubwatch.  Clearly retailers have a legitimate interest to know who local shoplifters are – but do they have the same right to access the personal data of individuals who have been reported only for anti-social behaviour associated with the local night-time economy?  And vice versa:  should Members of the Pubwatch be able to access personal data about shoplifters who never been involved in incidents in pubs and clubs?

If you’re running a single scheme, and just sharing data about retail crime to retail outlets or sharing details to pubs and nightclubs about individuals who are causing problems during the night then a legitimate interest is easily established.  But where the BCRS runs more than one scheme, each with different types of Members, are you justified in sharing all offenders’ data with all Members?

Ultimately, it’s down to the Data Controller to decide – and to document it as explained in our Factsheet.  But as more and more BCRSs expand their coverage across both retail and ‘hospitality’ sectors, they are becoming aware of the need to segregate their data so that specific types of data are shared only with specific types of Members.

You may feel comfortable in allowing all your Members to see the personal data of all offenders on your Disc system.  After all, a pub may have issues with shoplifters selling stolen goods on its premises, and of course 24-hour off-licences are retailers, but they also participate in the ‘night-time’ economy.

But if you’re running different kinds of schemes, with different purposes, you may want some form of data segregation. It means you can ensure that Pubwatch Members only see night-time data, retail Members only see retail data, and so on.  And more: by ensuring that Members only see content which is relevant to their own businesses, you’re likely to achieve higher levels of engagement by Members.

In Disc, implementing content segregation is simple.  In our separate blog here we discuss two options: using a Disc ‘bolt-on’ system or, alternatively, using Disc ‘SC’ (for Segregated Content).

Regular, compelling communication vital for successful schemes

Regular, compelling communication vital for successful schemes

Business crime reduction schemes want Disc to become a regular part of their Members’ work routines.  Using Disc to share compelling content with them is a powerful way they can ensure Members keep coming back to Disc again and again…

As a Disc Administrator, it’s vital that you regularly engage with your Members with a steady supply of ‘current awareness’ – news, alerts, information about up-coming events and newly-posted documents –  that’s relevant to them. The more content of this kind you can post to your Disc system, the more they’ll engage with your systems – and they more they’re reminded that Disc helps keep their businesses safe and secure.

Alerts should keep Members aware of urgent or important events: an Offender who’s just been let out of prison, or a warning about a new method of shoplifting.  If your Alerts contain information that Members need to be aware of, they’ll come to rely on Disc for up-to-date information, and they’ll access your Disc system more.

Sharing relevant News items, on your Disc system and through your Disc automated weekly eNewsletter, works the same way: helping bring your Members back to Disc time and time again.  And News about your scheme’s achievements will also encourage them to keep reporting incidents through Disc.

The Disc automated eNewsletter is a powerful ‘engagement tool’ built into Disc, pro-actively pushing current awareness to your Members so they are drawn back into Disc to read more.

Another engagement tool is Disc’s Instant Messaging system which can be used to pro-actively send Push Notifications direct to your Members’ smartphones.  The system can also be configured to enable Members to send instant messages directly to one another. And ‘Member Categories’ can be set up so that Instant Messages can be targeted at specific geographical or business areas within your scheme, ensuring the information shared is always relevant to specific types of Members.

Encouraging Members to click-through to their Disc system – either from the weekly eNewsletter or via an Instant Message – will really maximise engagement, bringing Members back to Disc time and time again, and making it a regular part of their business activity.  

Maximising membership engagement with your Disc system

Maximising membership engagement with your Disc system

Every three months we look at your Disc implementation to see how it’s performing and, where necessary, we contact you with tips on how to improve its performance.

We look at two things: your ‘membership engagement’ level and your GDRP compliance and Best Practice documentation.

In this article we’ll look at the first of these; we’ll cover GDPR compliance and Best Practice in a following article.

What is ‘engagement level’ and how do we check it?

Your engagement level is the single most important indicator of the health of your Disc system.  If few Members are engaging with it, then few are benefitting from it – or from the service you provide through it. It’s in your interests – as well as ours of course – to put that right.

You can check your membership engagement level in your Admin Centre by calculating the number of all the Members on your system (Dashboard –> Number of Members) as a percentage of the number of the Members who log in each month (Dashboard –> Number of Members logging in).

Every Disc system is different so acceptable engagement levels will vary. But an engagement level of, say 30% (so 70% of your Members don’t access your system at least once a month) suggests a problem.  Aim for an engagement figure of 70% or higher – but there’s always a small proportion of Members who access your system less often than once a month, so a 90% engagement level would be great, but ambitious!

The tips we provide reflect the fact that membership engagement is determined by two things:  the quality and quantity of content shared through your Disc system, and how you manage your membership.

Content Quality and Quantity

Disc is used to share current awareness. The better it is, and the more of it you can enter into Disc, the more Members will want to access it, and the more often they’ll come back to it.  ‘Better’ means compelling: information that your Members want to read. It’s not always easy to generate a steady flow of this kind of current awareness content, but here are some tips:

News: Obviously, share news that demonstrates how your scheme has helped to reduce the impact of low-level crime and ASB on your Members’ businesses. Also scour local media for relevant news to share through Disc (remember to include a reference or hyperlink to the source of the story if there is one). Consider designating selected Members as ‘Authors’ – for example local police or licensing authorities can submit news items direct into your system (read about how to set up Authors in Admin Centre –> Help –> Managing your Disc System –> Section 11: Members with Admin Permissions). Make the most of Cross-Disc Publishing: invite neighbouring Disc Administrators to become Members of your own system, and designate them as ‘Authors’ so they can copy any of their own news items direct into your Disc Admin Centre (where you can choose whether or not to pass it on to your Members). Read about how to set up Cross-Disc Publishing in Admin Centre –> Help –> Cross-Disc Publishing Guide).

Alerts: Remember to share Alerts – about urgent, important information – with Members by emailing them within Disc, or by sending push-notifications Members get them instantly on their smartphones.  Alerts draw Members back into Disc to read more – a great way to maximise their engagement. Do you receive notifications or Alerts into your Disc Admin Centre from National Business Crime Solution or any other information sharing network?  If so, make sure you review them as soon as possible so, where relevant, you can pass them on quickly to your Members.

Documents:  You probably use your Disc system to share ‘Must-Read’ and GDPR-compliance documents with your Members.  But are you making the most of this function? You can store Warning and Exclusion Notices in Disc so Members can print them out as and when they need them. Members may also need to refer to Best Practice and guidance, for example about CCTV cameras, powers of arrest and so on.  Review these from time to time to make sure they’re always up to date.  If you’re a BID, include your latest Business Plan as well as other documents such as Minutes of Board Meetings.

Events:  Make sure you use Disc’s Events function to publicise up-coming events to Members.  Any scheme is likely to run regular face-to-face or online meetings with Members: publicise these in Disc and attach Agendas.  Once events are over, write a news item in Disc to summarise what happened and attach Minutes. If you’re part of a BID, then include BID events especially those which attract more visitors into the area – and into your Members’ premises.

Incident Reports: A regular flow of incident reports generates compelling information which can be shared back to Members. So ensure everything is done to encourage Members to submit incident reports through your Disc system. You can view your reporting levels in Admin Centre –> Dashboard –> Number of Incidents Processed. Of course incident reports are essential for managing your local banning schemes.

Galleries: Incident reports provide the names and images for your Disc galleries, ensuring the galleries keep fresh, with new faces appearing on a regular basis:  making them more dynamic makes them more compelling to your Members. Also, try to keep the number of galleries to the minimum required: if Members get confused and find it hard to find a specific offender because there are too many galleries displayed, they’ll be less likely to access them.

Manage your Membership

The easiest way of improving your membership engagement level is simply to delete Members who never, or rarely, access your Disc system.

This isn’t a trick to make your engagement level look better.  It’s important to delete Members who, for one good reason or another, should no longer be on your list.  Members change jobs or move out of the area, and while your Rules & Protocols may require Members to let you know when their circumstances change, few do.

And it’s quite possible that some Members shouldn’t have been added in the first place.  Some of these may never have never logged in or logged in initially but not returned.  In any case these should be deleted from your Disc system. And you may save money too: your Disc license covers a specific number of Members, and we charge a small amount for any extra Member over that number.  If you’re over that limit, reducing your membership can save money.

Identifying inactive Members in your Disc systems is easy.  In Admin Centre –> Dashboard –> you can view all Members who have been inactive for the last three months.  Alternatively in Admin Centre –> Dashboard –> I want to…–> Manage Members you can use the Filter tool to display all Members who have never logged in, or not logged in over the last three, six or twelve months.

Before you delete them, just check that there’s no good reason they shouldn’t be deleted.  Disc can help: display all inactive Members in your dataview and click on the Email Selected Members button.  Now you can write a single email to all of them – perhaps asking them to get in touch with you if they wish to retain their membership – and click on Send.

Good Member management requires a personal touch.  If you notice a Member has become inactive, call or visit their premises to check whether they’re still there.  If they’ve moved on, is there a replacement who should be added as a Member?

Sometimes physical presence on the ground is the only way to spot newcomers into the area who may be eligible for membership; it’s easier to explain the benefits when you’re face-to-face.  And, as Disc Administrator, you can add new Members into Disc when you’re out and about through your Disc App (tap on ‘Admin Functions’ at the bottom of your Disc App homescreen to add a new Member).

Engagement Tools

To help you maximise member engagement, Disc includes two powerful, built-in ‘engagement tools’:  its automated weekly eNewsletter and its Instant Messaging system.

Make sure you have switched on automated eNewsletter (at Admin Centre –> I want to… –> Configure Disc –>  Current Awareness Management –>  eNewsletter –>  Configure Auto-send).  From now on, every Members will receive an eNewsletter from your Disc system, completely automatically created and sent every week.  It describes everything that’s been added to your Disc system in the previous seven days (and all up-coming events) and click-through links to full details in your Disc system.  Think of it as a shop window, tempting your Members to access all the great new content in Disc – and to engage.  Why would anyone step inside a shop if there was no window displaying what lies within?

And make the most of Disc’s Instant Messaging systems. When you send an Alert as an email to Members, be sure to send it also as a Push Notification. Members who use the App will be the first to know about it on their smartphones, and read full details in the App.  Alerts sent out like this attract Members back into your Disc system, further maximising engagement.

Also, make sure you switch on your Disc Instant Messaging system to enable Members to send Instant Messages and Push Notifications direct to one another.  Because Members must access the messages themselves in Disc, they are, again, drawn back into Disc, maximising engagement.  Configure Instant Messaging at Admin Centre –> I want to… –> Configure Disc –> Current Awareness Management –>Instant Messaging.

For more information…

We’ll continue to help by reviewing your Disc systems every three months and to provide useful suggestions for maximising your membership engagement level. In the meantime, if you need more information on this, please don’t hesitate to contact us on or 01273 900468.

Disc’s new API: enabling truly joined-up local crime reduction

Disc’s new API: enabling truly joined-up local crime reduction

We’re delighted to announce our new Disc ‘Application Programming Interface’ (API). For major retailing and hospitality sector businesses that want to reduce the impact of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour on their businesses premises, it’s a game-changer…

The API means that incidents submitted into any third-party reporting system can be instantly copied into a local Disc implementation. So retail or hospitality multiples for example, with their own internal systems for reporting incidents, can copy them direct into local business crime reduction schemes.

That means that individual premises can participate in, and contribute to, local banning schemes which have been proven to be highly effective at reducing low-level crime.

Recent years have seen more and more major retailers adopt their own internal incident-reporting systems, and some have become less willing to report these incidents all over again into local business crime reduction schemes; understandably they find it hard to justify the time and expense of entering details twice.

The Disc API is a technical specification that allows any reporting system to copy reports seamlessly and automatically into any designated Disc system. There is no charge for use of the API and it is available to any third-party reporting system.

Says Disc’s Charlie Newman: “Some big multiples have built their own internal reporting systems; many of the larger guarding companies have their own, which they offer to their customers. And the National Business Crime Solution, whose membership is made up of many of the largest retailers in the country, has its own reporting system, iNTEL ONE for use by its members.

“We’re already working with NBCS to enable its members to report into iNTEL ONE, and seamlessly copy those reports instantly into any local business crime scheme that uses Disc. This means NBCS’s members and local crime reduction schemes both benefit, and mutually support reach other.”

Says NBCS’s Peter Fisher: “Interactivity between the NBCS’s iNTEL ONE and Disc is a no-brainer and will enable efficient, compliant and cost-effective data-sharing for the benefit of all.”

To receive a copy of the Disc API documentation email us at

Fifteen more customers join the Disc network

Fifteen more customers join the Disc network

October and November saw a record 15 new customers sign up to Disc. Among them: another police force has chosen Disc to support its rural crime reduction work; one of the UK’s top-10 security companies; an ‘industrial’ BID using Disc to reduce crime and ASB for its levy payers…

In the North East, Cramlington in Northumberland has invested in Disc to address night-time crime and ASB, with the support of Northumbria Police; the Yorkshire Coast BID – representing retailers and the hospitality industry from the Humber to the Cleveland Hills – has implemented Disc to support its levy payers.

To the west we welcome Lancaster BID, bringing the number of Disc systems in Lancashire to six. Meanwhile in the Midlands Kidderminster becomes the 16th Disc system in the West Mercia policing area.

The the south, Wimborne BID in Dorset has chosen to implement Disc, while a further Disc implementation in Cornwall brings the total number of Disc systems in that county to four. Bracknell BID, an ‘industrial’ BID supporting commercial and industrial businesses to the south and west of the Berkshire town, becomes the third industrial BID to implement Disc.

In London, Sidcup, Penge and Bexleyheath BIDs bring the number of Disc systems in the Metropolitan Police area to 31. Elsewhere in the South East, Slough BID in Berkshire has invested in Disc, becoming the 17th Disc system in the Thames Valley policing area; in Kent, Ashford Partnership Against Crime becomes the fourth Disc implementation in the county.

We’re also delighted that another police force has chosen Disc to support its rural crime reduction activity. More and more forces are looking to harness the power of Disc to help drive down countryside crime, showing that Disc is just as effective in supporting rural communities as it is in helping reduce low-level crime and ASB in towns and city-centres.

And finally, another of the UK’s top-10 security companies has chosen Disc to help it support its customers. It’s the third of the UK security industry’s top-10 companies to choose Disc.

A radio revolution for business crime reduction schemes?

A radio revolution for business crime reduction schemes?

Sharing information is a core function of business crime reduction schemes, whether it’s sharing urgent, important information between members, or enabling them to quickly, conveniently access images of local offenders and banned individuals. Now a new generation of radio handsets is set to support both types of communication in one powerful – and affordable – package.

Radio handsets with access to Disc

Some business crime reduction schemes (BCRSs) provide their members with mobile radio systems for sharing urgent, important information. At the same time, across the county, such schemes use Disc to share images of local offenders – as well as news, alerts, access to documents and information about up-coming events – with members on their own personal smartphones.

For some years now many radio handsets have been ‘Android-enabled’ (such as the Hytera device shown above) so they can operate either as radios or as smartphones. The devices increasingly sport smartphone-style large screens. So, like conventional smartphones, they can now display the Disc App.

That means the devices enable users to benefit from participating in local radio schemes – at the same time as providing access to their Disc system to access galleries of local offenders, alerts, news and documents, plus submit incident reports about low-level crime and ASB to their local Disc Administrator. Putting Disc onto the new breed of Android-enabled radio handsets is simple, and means users need only one device.

But setting up radio networks can be costly, and radio handsets can be expensive too. They may make clear economic sense for professional security officers or members who use the devices regularly.  But the cost may be more difficult to justify for smaller retailers or licensed premises who use the service only infrequently – and for the BCRSs that support them too.  Happily for them, a solution is now available.

Push-to-Talk over Cellular: linking smartphones into radio networks

Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PTToC) changes those economics.  Smartphone Apps have offered PTToC – providing many of the functions of conventional radio systems at a fraction of the cost – for many years now.  So why is it only now that PTToC has become a viable option?

Use of PTToC by BCRSs has been held back by two factors:  patchy internet or mobile phone coverage, and reticence on the part of conventional radio suppliers to promote systems which can be delivered at lower cost – and therefore lower profit.

But mobile phone coverage and access to WiFi is now virtually ubiquitous and robust in all but the most remote rural areas. And some radio suppliers, recognising the potential of PTToC, are moving towards offering PTToC faster than others.

Tom Ross is Managing Director of Foresolutions which has recently supplied a Business Improvement District with a flexible local radio system which links conventional radios with smartphones using PTToC (and delivers access to the BID’s Disc system on both types of devices).

Says Ross: “The options are so much wider and more practical now than they were, even a couple of years ago. And we can be much more flexible about how we can deliver radio-style communications to a BID.  So schemes can offer PTToC communications between levy payers who can opt to access the system through their own smartphones or through dedicated radio handsets.

“That means schemes can offer the benefits of a local radio network to a wider range of users – high-volume ones that perhaps can more easily cost-justify dedicated handsets, as well as lighter users who can simply use their existing smartphones. To be able to display Disc on either of them is an important additional benefit”.

Businesses that have to contend with high volumes of low-level crime and ASB will likely opt to use dedicated Android-enabled radio handsets; others with only occasional requirements can simply use PTToC on their existing smartphones.  And both types of devices can communicate between each other across the same network.

The fact that PTToC systems use the standard internet network means that setting up a radio-type communication scheme doesn’t involve costly aerials and repeaters, and the network itself is not vulnerable to any ‘single point of failure’.  “And expanding such a network is also easy” says Ross. “In fact there is no reason why a single PTToC network can’t extend right across the country.  So schemes that are keen to extend their areas of coverage can do so without any additional infrastructure costs”.

There are lots of basic PTT apps available for download onto smartphones – many of them free of charge for the non-business user.  But few offer advanced functions such as indoor and outdoor location, multiple channels, recorded video calling or group text messaging.  Neither do they provide the central control that conventional radio schemes need – for example managing membership of the network, disabling users when necessary, and seeing when users are online and active.

Says Tom Ross: “That’s where providers like ourselves can deliver flexible solutions which make the most of lower-cost PTToC at the same time as ensuring the overall control and management of the system by a BID or business crime reduction scheme”.