Monday, September 24, 2007

CCTV Crime deterrent or just another example of Big Brother?

The local authorities and Transport for London operate over 10,000 Close Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) that are estimated to have cost the tax payer an estimated £200 million.

Despite the unrelentless drive towards installing more and more cameras figures recently released suggest that CCTV does little to prevent or solve crime.

The report highlighted that when comparing areas with saturated CCTV with areas where few cameras were installed the police clear up rate was almost identical and in some cases worse, with four out of five boroughs having the most cameras reporting below average crime solving rate.

Some critics of CCTV argue that the report confirms previous studies that have thrown doubt on the effectiveness of CCTV cameras.

For many years some organisations have said that money spent on cameras would be better used on street lighting, which has been shown to cut crime by up to 20 per cent.

Are CCTV the thin edge of a police state wedge? Would CCTV cameras put you more at ease or do they only offer false comfort?

Are the criminal element no longer deterred by the presence of CCTV, often knowing it is impossible for the authorities to continually monitor the cameras and that with the minimal disguise they appear to be of limited use in identifying the majority of perpetrators.

Should the reliance on CCTV be curbed and they only be installed where there is undeniable evidence that they are effective?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

DNA Testing for all?

The British police can currently store DNA samples from anyone arrested in England or Wales for a recordable offence which typically can lead to jail.
Any DNA sample taken currently remains indefinitely on the police database even if later someone is not charged and is subsequently released.

Do you think that a country's police force should be allowed to keep such information?

Should each country move towards having the whole population and every visitor's DNA added to a national DNA database?

Participate in this weeks open survey DNA Testing for all?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Survey Galaxy Enhancements Roundup

A number of enhancements to the Survey Galaxy website were released recently, this entry highlights some of them.

Create Survey From Template

We have always provided you with the ability to use templates to create your surveys but we have now added a field to the 'Create a New Survey' display to allow you to pre-populate a new survey with all the items from a selected template.

This option is in addition to Survey Galaxy's ability to allow you to select specific elements from any number of survey templates so that you can insert single or multiple items into your survey exactly where you want them.

Our Enterprise subscribers enjoy the benefits of having templates that are shared across the account making it ideal for ensuring that there is a consistency when it comes to look and feel as well as increasing productivity such as having the organisation's specific department and disciplines already setup to use.

If you are not familiar with what the real benefits of using Survey Galaxy's templates are you may find the Import from Template Library tutorial of interest.


We have added a number of styles to the system styles to help you customise the look and feel of your survey. You are still able to fully customise the survey to your own requirements such as change the colours, fonts style and size; check out the Customizing Styles tutorial for more detailed information.

CC Email Responses

Many of our members are realising the benefits of using surveys as forms throughout the organisation. They are creating surveys based on existing hard copy forms and use the Edit Details option for the survey to set the 'Email Responses' to 'Yes'. The respondents answers are then emailed to the publisher as soon as the respondent completes the survey, thus making it ideal for forms such as room booking and holiday requests and all the many ad-hoc forms that spring up throughout an organisation.

We have now added an optional 'CC' facility that will provide a courtesy copy to a number of people improving the chances that a formal requests will always be received and acted upon in a quick and timely manner.

The other major benefit of using surveys as forms is that a record of requests is always maintained and can be analyzed at any time using the standard survey reporting tools. If you can look around and see a lot of paper forms why not consider setting up one or two through Survey Galaxy and see for yourself?

Export Results

We would always recommend in the first instance that you use our own online Results Analyzer to analyze and query the survey data but have nevertheless always provided the facility to allow survey results to be exported for use in applications such as Excel and SPSS.

If your knowledge of Excel is limited, and even if you are an expert to save you time, we have for a long time included with all export orders an Excel spreadsheet containing macros to help display the information as a Pivot table and also generate charts, we have now consolidated all the Excel macros that we provide into a single spreadsheet.

Please note a few things about the macros we provide:

  • The Excel macros are provided 'as is' and do not form any part of the Survey Galaxy purchased services.
  • The macros are documented, visible and unprotected so if you are technically minded you can always view the code and have confidence that they contain no malicious code.
  • The Excel macros are only certified to run on Windows XP and Excel 2003
We are not precious about the macro code so your are able to modify and extend the functionality if required.

We have recently included a macro that will transpose the exported data that is provided in rows, into columns; a word or warning though, Excel 2003 is limited to 256 columns so not all surveys can be transposed.

New Quit Survey Button

We have introduced a new facility that will allow you to include a 'Quit' option on your survey and you may wonder why this would be of benefit to you.

The value of having the Quit button will depend entirely on the type and purpose of your survey but it does give you the opportunity to find out why people are not completing the survey.

The Quit button is introduce by specifying a URL to be called if the Quit button is used. This can point to a simple 'Thank you for your time' page, can take the respondent to your home page or it can be used to link to another survey to ask the repondent why they quit the survey thereby providing you with valuable information.

If no Quit URL is specified, then the Quit button is not displayed.

Thank you

Well that is about it for now, we would however like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who provided us with feedback and enhancement requests.

If you have a feature you would like us to consider, or find an existing facility confusing or difficult to use please let us know as it is really useful for us to know what the features are that people require and where we need to channel our development efforts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Is 9/11 still killing the rescue workers and survivors?

When Arab Islamist terrorists hijacked airplanes and crashed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City causing the buildings to collapse almost 3,000 people died.

Since 11 September 2001 a large number of rescue and recovery workers and local residents are suffering sickness and in some cases death caused due to what many believe was a result of all the toxic substances released into the environment.

Many of those people, who at the time were described as heroes by President Bush and the then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, are now being left to suffer aliments that include cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and respiratory disease.

Some critics have suggested that it was for economics and the desire to reopen Wall Street that may have resulted in Christie Todd Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, lying to the emergency services personnel and recovery workers when she told them that the air was safe to go back to work.

Since 9/11 many, once fit firemen, paramedics and detectives have had to retire from their jobs due to ill health and have not received any help, compensation or acknowledgment for their apparent sacrifice.

Do you believe that the number people who died on 9/11 will be far eclipsed by the number of people who will die directly because of their exposure at Ground Zero?

Should the government have done more to anticipate the consequences of working at Ground Zero and provided medical support and compensation to all those who helped in the immediate recovery and rescue operation?

Participate in this weeks open survey Is 9/11 still killing the rescue workers and survivors?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The British leave Basra, handover or retreat?

The beginning of September 2007 saw the British troops that were formally based in the centre of Basra relocate to the airbase outside the city.

The official view from the Ministry of Defence was that the action was one of a number of "successful handovers" and that the troops were to remain on hand in the wings to support Iraq's most senior army officer in Basra, General Mohan al-Fireji, in his attempts to persuade Shia militias to lay down their arms.

British forces had first entered Basra on April 6 2003 and in an attempt to put the locals at ease and in stark contrast to their American colleagues patrolled the streets wearing soft berets and not hard helmets.

Their Northern Ireland experience may have better prepared the British troops over the American GI, but the 'hearts and minds' policy that was initiated from the off appears to have been far from an overwhelming success.

Many critics would argue that if Basra is considered calm today it is only because the religious parties in Basra now control the city. Only while the local militia can protect their own individual interests will the status quo be maintained, but once those interests are threatened the city is ready to burn.

Having been given a poison chalice by the politicians, the British army may have assessed that they are in a no-win situation and that a dignified withdrawal is better than perpetuating a myth that peace in Iraq will eventually prevail.

We ask if the handover is an inevitable step in a war that many would argue was ill-conceived right from the very start? Will the Americans have to sooner or later face reality and follow suit? Have the British cut and run leaving even more death, destruction and hardship for the average Iraqi?

Participate in this weeks open survey The British leave Basra, handover or retreat?