This reality is unacceptable in a paradise with endless beauty, bountiful resources, and endless possibilities. But the daily threat of crime robs us of lives, livelihoods and what we work so hard to earn. It stops business in its tracks and robs us of our ability to thrive and live in peace. Crime and criminals make our country THEIR paradise and destroy the meaning of “safe.”
South Africans have varying levels of access to tools that make us feel safer – there are those with alarm systems, private security companies, car trackers and those who have little to protect their homes; who don’t have alarms but rely on neighbourhood groups and communities and the strained resources of SAPS. Parents have to hope that their children will make it home safely from school or when using public transport.
Safety is a basic human need, and a right enshrined in our constitution. But for most, it’s not a given but rather, an ambition … something that we aspire to, but which we have very little control over.
The impact is devastating – physically, economically, and mentally. How long should we remain victims? Who are the people who should change what we have adapted to as our “normal.” The government? Police? Business? Our private security companies? The courts? Our community groups? Our politicians? Us as individuals?
The truth is, dealing with crime is so engrained in us that it will take an extraordinary effort from all of us if we want things to change.
I’m super positive about our country – but we need to be proactive and not put our heads in the sand and hope it will all go away.
We are being killed, held hostage, shot at, raped, and kidnapped. Our infrastructure is being destroyed, businesses are being robbed and looted, and our police are trying to ward off criminals without the basic tools for the job, let alone access to advanced technology available globally. Our private security companies have had to invest heavily to access such tools and while we have pockets of “well protected” areas, everyone traverses outside these bubbles where there is no cover.
I have been involved in fighting crime most of my life and one thing has always been apparent – there is success and progress made in pockets, but this is often quickly eroded by a failure in areas not afforded the same level of expertise or service. And that keeps me up at night.
When I started Vumacam, it was with a view of using CCTV cameras and technology to support private security companies and the SAPS. While it has been immensely successful in Gauteng, where we concentrated our efforts to prove the model of a city-wide smart camera network, but there are still gaps where criminals can hide. We need your help to close them.
Today, Vumacam is the country’s largest CCTV and security technology operator. We have engaged with various municipalities to allow us to expand into new regions and we will strive to deliver a national rollout of Vumacam infrastructure, one municipality at a time.
This year we launched SafeCity – an initiative that connects our private security partners and public law enforcement. SafeCity Partners can now access the full Vumacam network to gain the city-wide situational awareness critical to understanding criminal patterns and movements, assist with crime prevention and investigations and have the backup and support of SAPS when they need it most.
Our common technology platform has been purpose-built to enable this collaboration with the support of hi-tech systems designed to combat crime more effectively safely, and efficiently.
The first phase is Vumacam’s support of E2 – an official, coordinated joint crime fighting initiative between the South African Police Service (SAPS), Business Against Crime South Africa (BACSA) and the Private Security Industry (PSI). It uses CCTV, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics to drive a highly coordinated, agile response to crimes in progress and criminal investigations.
Where we have our cameras, and a crime is being committed, or a vehicle of interest (VOI) passes by, an alert is triggered in private security control rooms and the E2 Fusion Centre. Algorithms and artificial intelligence drive the ability to detect suspicious behaviour and create system alerts – whether it’s someone being attacked, a weapon alert, abandoned objects, infrastructure being vandalised, or even an accident or a tree falling. Our License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras flag VOI that have been involved in crimes or suspected crimes. Across our network we are averaging around 28 000 VOI alerts a day.
We’ve also made privacy a priority, and we believe that globally, our systems are best-in-class in terms of securing data and protecting privacy.
Creating SafeCity initiatives across the country means that safety is not just a privilege for some, but a right for all. We can achieve this by using smart technology to drive safe outcomes. It allows us all to become active role players in preventing and reporting crime, it allows public resources to benefit from private support and for collaboration to have effective outcomes.
This fight will need all of us standing together – however we are able – whether by using specialist knowledge and skills, committing to report crime taking place or building community efforts to tackle crime and create networks of support.
As Vumacam, we have taken what I believe is one progressive step in tackling crime and I look forward to standing proudly with other experts, leaders and citizens across the country who choose to play their role. Allowing “safe” to mean something tangible not just for some but for everyone in our beautiful country.