December 2006

e-JIKEI Network Project/Japan

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There are many activities worldwide aimed at developing e-Government. The e-JIKEI Network project in Japan is a novel concept of realising e-Government through a bottom-up approach from citizens and utilising security cameras, PCs and software

The concept of e-Government, which involves reconstruction of administrative workflow, improvement of public services, and more efficiency and productivity has attracted much interest in recent years due to information technology (IT) becoming widespread amongst the general public. There are many activities worldwide aimed at developing e-Government. For example, the Japanese government in 2001, 2004, and 2006 drew up the “e-Japan Strategy” and the “e-Japan Strategy II” which aims at ensuring that “Japan will grow to be at the forefront of IT five years from now.” Similar plans have also been reported in the EU, the United States, and other countries.

However, in order to popularise e-Government with the public, not only a top-down approach from a government body would be necessary but also a bottom-up approach from the local community with a specific sense of purpose. The reason for this is that the general idea of e-Government contains several functions such as online administration, service delivery, privacy, and security of information. The focus should now be indeed on the security of local communities because this concerns the most and is of interest. As such, a community can arguably have a strong ability to prevent crime provided only a portion of residents keep watch on what happens around their houses with the aid of their own PC, commercially available, cheap cameras, and image capture software. In Japan, this concept of archiving community security is named the “e-JIKEI Network”. In Japanese, “JIKEI” means “vigilante”. Additionally, the need to discuss this concept has also arisen from the viewpoints of social science and homeland security.

There are many types of software available for capturing video images, but it is difficult to find any free software suitable for the e-JIKEI Network project. Therefore, e-JIKEI Network’s own software has been developed with the minimum necessary functions and being distributed free of charge through the website http://www.ejikei.org. The software is written in English and in Japanese and simply selects relevant pictures and saves them to the hard disk.

If this concept were to spread nationwide (something which has of course not happened yet), it could become a bottom-up approach towards achieving e-Government for community security. “The Society for e-JIKEI Network” has been organised to promote this commu-nity security framework. PCs with e-JIKEI software have been installed and connected with security cameras in Kiryu, Maebashi, Japan. This was done with the cooperation of a variety of partners, including the Kiryu Police Department, the city of Kiryu, the Kiryu city local board of education, and the NPO, Higumi.

e-JIKEI Network and achieving  e-Government

The concept of the e-JIKEI Network is intended to recreate a system of mutual watching, which was commonly found in communities in the past. However, in the present day this continues, but in a much more powerful and flexible form with the aid of IT. In particular, this concept enables ordinary individuals to introduce, possess, and operate a high performance home security system using the PC which they already have, an Internet connection, a  variety of cheap cameras, and free software provided at the e-JIKEI Network website, which has been established by the authors for promoting this concept both nationwide and worldwide. The first version of this free software has been provided with a manual since December 2004. Even if the e-JIKEI Network System is introduced separately, it would be useful as a home security system. If the system spreads out in the community in relatively high density, within an altruistic, community-minded framework, the effectiveness of this system of watching on community security would be much more significant than ever before experienced in history.

Without a “network,” namely a partnership between government and citizens, it is impossible to spread this idea to the general public. Therefore, this project includes not only technology for home security systems, but also construction of a social network structure among citizens for the achievement of e-Government. Very few attempts have been made at such an approach.

Developing free software: Dairi EYE Series

The Society for e-JIKEI Network has provided free software “Dairi EYE Standard” since December 2004. “Dairi” means “proxy” in Japanese. The software has the minimum necessary functions to enable “keeping watch over your home, 24 hours per day.” In other words “watching over your home, not for your own security, but for the security of the surrounding community”. The major features of the software are as follows: Supports Microsoft WindowsTMXP/2000 / Me/98 operating system; easy installa-tion and simple operation; small and fast; and, supports multiple cameras such as VFW (Video for Windows) cameras or adapters (VFW mode), and network cameras (FTP and HTTP mode); able to acquire images several times in a second from USB cameras or networks; saves images that are different from the ones acquired immediately before (supports user adjustments for the threshold values for saving images, creates time and location information with the saved image files1, allows erasing of the saved images automatically, and, monitors disk space and number of ima-ges); and, automatic motion detection (Up to 10 arbitrary rectangular areas for detec-tion sensitivity adjustment can be set).

Other implementations are also available. “Dairi EYE Lock” supports en-cryption and decryption under the admi- nistration section for policing of images in order to get rid of any concerns regard-ing invasion of privacy. “Dairi EYE Fron- tier” was developed to add a high level of functionality to our project. Additionally, “Dairi EYE Easy” is provided for usage with only single VFW mode cameras. In the current Dairi-EYE series, network functions such as communicating with another home security system and brow-sing and searching the images in that system cannot be used. Implementation of network functions is now in progress.

The rules and guidelines are necessary for avoiding unexpected and unnecessary problems. One potential cause of such problems is that ordinary residents can easily obtain a great ability to observe and memorise what happens around their house because the system based on our concept is very simple and quite powerful. However, as long as the system is used within an altruistic community-minded framework, the introduction of the e-JIKEI Network concept yields much. For example, the file name and its path express time and location information such as as “C:\e- JIKEI\Location-A\2006\Apr\05\ H04M12S11_4.jpg”, which means that this image file was taken at 04:12:11 on the 5th of April 2006 at Location-A.

Security camera usage guideline

Security camera systems, which include the free software distributed by e-JIKEI Network  project team, have been developed for those who feel that they would like to contribute to local  area security. There is no intention howsoever of promoting use of this security camera system to people without this desire. The system has great potential, and if used correctly the  local area security could be improved. However, given its potential the misuse of this system  could cause serious social issues. It is also feared that if information innocently obtained by  this security camera system is carelessly revealed, then serious results such as invasion of privacy could occur.

The guideline’s objective is to provide the teams that security camera system administrators  must obey. The security camera system must be used for the creation of a secure and peaceful  local community and for preventing crime and accidents. Security camera system users must  prevent, in the usage of the system, the illegal invasion of others’ privacy or rights.  Security camera system users must safely keep pictures obtained by the security camera  system and the storage media of the pictures and prevent leakage of these pictures. Security  camera system may reveal pictures obtained by security  camera systems only for use in criminal investigations or for common social ideas or legal reasons. However, in all case, the decision for revealing pictures obtained  by security camera systems depends on the user who owns the pictures. Security camera system users must not leak others’ secrets discovered through pictures taken by security camera systems.

Introduction experiments in communities

Introduction experiment in communities in Maebashi, Gunma, Japan, were conducted in partnership with the NPO, Higumi. It was decided not to attempt to introduce the e-JIKEI Network into a person’s home, but into a local community because the system would be able todisplay its capabilities better under conditions where the system is introduced to the relatively high density of a community. In addition, this concept is based on a system of mutual watching, which was commonly found in communities in the past. For that reason, this is a good example for the rest of the districts of the nation and for introduction worldwide.

Higumi has been making continuous efforts to prevent crimes in local communities consisting  of quiet residential quarters, 12 hectares in area, and having 380 households.  From 2004, crime prevention posters and lights with security sensors have been introduced into the 2nd block of Hiyoshi, Maebashi, Gunma. Furthermore, from January 15, 2005, the  e-JIKEI Network has been introduced into areas designated as “crime prevention model cases”  by the Maebashi Police Department. Installation of 35 sets of security cameras, software and  stickers labelled with “Warning: security cameras are in operation!” has been implemented  thanks to the volunteer work of Higumi. All cameras have been directly placed outside of houses in order to achieve the goal of “watching over your home, not for your own security,  but for the security of the surrounding community”.

What should be remembered in this case is not the “technical” but the “social” method for the  installation of security cameras and/or software into the community. In particular, Higumi  works out original security camera usage guidelines such as the e-JIKEI Network in order to  achieve a consensus in use to defend themselves and make the guidelines and concepts known  to everyone without exception. Consequently, no problems or claims have been reported since  January 2005. At the same time, Higumi received an official commendation for these  activities from the Minister of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications.

The result clearly shows that the e- JIKEI Network has been introduced and has operated successfully in the district for almost 2 years. It has been amply proved that the concept of the e-JIKEI Network could be accepted by ordinary residential districts as well. If this attempt spreads nationwide and has an effect on the government, the concept of the e- JIKEI Network would be able to contribute to achieving e-Government. This is the bottom-up approach.

Conclusion

Very few attempts have been made at a bottom-up approach for achieving e-Government, a  concept that has attracted much interest in recent years. The e-JIKEI Network project has a  strong ability to support it in local community security since the project’s concept proposes  not only security camera system software used in home PCs but also a community-minded  security platform. However, currently the e-JIKEI Network project only proposes methods to  create community security in neighbourhoods or in city districts.

The present study clearly indicates that comparing it to top-down methods for achieving e-Government in local community security, the system based on the e-JIKEI Network has advantages in cost, ability and flexibility.

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