Better streets & spaces  |  11 Sep 2020

Graffiti across Christchurch will be “mapped and tracked” using innovative technology to help identify offenders and cut costs to ratepayers.

The Smart Christchurch Graffiti Recognition trial , which will begin shortly, will track graffiti activity using data from the public and contractors to help curb building damage and identify repeat offenders to Police.

It will also help to identify repeatedly targeted sites.

Christchurch City Council Smart Christchurch Programme Manager Michael Healy says the technology analyses photographs of graffiti to map offending.

“We receive about 20,000 reports of graffiti from the public each year, with most coming via the Snap Send Solve smartphone app,” Mr Healy says.

“We will shortly be able to analyse each photo and capture key data to help identity and catch repeat offenders.

“Antisocial behaviour  such as graffiti  in our communities has an extremely negative effect on neighbourhoods, as well as damaging buildings and property. By utilising this new technology, we will be able to expose those responsible.”

The technology analyses incoming photos using a machine learning and algorithmic identification technique, and then matches graffiti images that show key similarities.

Mr Healy says the 12-month trial will test the effectiveness of the technology.

“International data shows that tracking technology drastically cuts ‘tags’, saving ratepayers a great deal of money,” he says. “With this new technology we will be able to connect a graffiti tag with an individual or ‘crew’.”

The direct cost to the Council of graffiti clean-up work is close to $1 million annually. However, this does not include costs incurred by property owners, such as utility companies.