Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Design Solutions Through Thought Process

For the final part of the second Design Studies task, we were asked to create a poster of our research on a specific problem/issue and clearly illustrate our thought process, showing possible solutions. I chose to look into the issue of Car Theft, by researching methods and products which could possibly reduce the majority of cases. I also looked at what is already out there and the main reasons behind car theft to gain a better understanding of the issue as a whole. This is my finished poster:

I began by looking into which vehicles are most at risk, and I wasn't surprised by my findings. It's pretty obvious that cars with belongings visible to passers by were a target, along with older, less security intelligent vehicles and vehicles left in derelict areas. I then went on to gain a better understanding of how the situation of the car is very important: home, street, car park, showroom/garage. Car thieves these days are intelligent and have new techniques as they understand that in order to have the best chance of a clean getaway they must insure that they don't set off an alarm. They use a long pole with a hook attached to the end to reach through your letter box and grab your keys. In doing this they can just drive away without causing any disturbance ensuring that the missing car is not reported for longer. Cars can be shipped off-shore within the hour. Car keys stolen during burglaries is common:


The public clearly need to be made more aware of this issue to ensure they are not making themselves an easy target. A simple way of doing this would be through leaflets to every door or posters clearly visible. Getting neighbourhoods involved in informing their community of the problem. But would this really work? do we need shock tactics for people to take notice or is getting them involved in some way to directly combat the issue in problem areas a stronger idea? Electronic immobilisers although an anti-theft deterrent, are useless in this case as the thief has the keys so no unauthorised starting of the engine is taking place. Alarms are also useless although in reality they are pretty useless anyway. How often do you think when you hear a car alarm sounding, "A car is being stolen!"? The majority of the time you just think how annoying someone turn it off ! This is due to too many false alarms and car alarms unreliability. This is another issue needing addressed in the fight to prevent car theft.

Continuing to think about situation and security lead me to remember experiencing parking in Britain's safest car park, Bold Lane in Derby. At the time I was shocked at the technology involved in keeping the publics car's safe for 20p extra per hour. Unlike the majority of car parks Bold Lane is equipped with panic buttons, locked entry doors, a huge CCTV network and intelligent sensors. These sensors detect if the car moves whilst it is still stored on the system database. If the individual card has been activated by adding a unique number to the system but has not been deactivated at the entrance door, it results in a system lock down which is impossible to escape. Surely people would pay the extra money if a car park in a problem area had this technology to ensure the safety of their car. Would it be possible one day for all car parks to be this safe?

I feel like I'm asking too many questions here, so finally I have come up with some methods of prevention. Already out there are steering wheel locking devices and, engine turn off devices, kill switches and GPS vehicle tracking. So I thought about making each car uniquely coded to it's owner. This could be done through storing the individuals finger print or eye(iris) into a database in the car. The fingerprint detector could be located in the side paneling of the car door and the eye identifier could be located in the windscreen or in the above paneling. It would be made impossible to start the engine of the car unless the owner was present and impossible to enter the vehicle unless force was used. To accommodate for cars with multiple owners/drivers their details could be entered to only on request. If a car was sold on then the previous owner would also have to be present to agree to the changing of the database content and for their details to be wiped or transferred to another vehicle.