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Cape Town banks on tech for safer highways

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 04 Nov 2022
The City of Cape Town’s leadership showcases the tech-equipped vehicles assigned to the new highway patrol unit.
The City of Cape Town’s leadership showcases the tech-equipped vehicles assigned to the new highway patrol unit.

Ahead of the busy festive season, the City of Cape Town has introduced a tech-led highway patrol unit.

This follows executive mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis’s pronouncements that the city’s law enforcement will accelerate its digital strategy, to address the issue of safety and security.

In a statement, the city says vehicles assigned to the new patrol unit will be fitted with dash-cams and automated number-plate recognition (ANPR) technology, while the staff will receive body-cams.

The ANPR dash-cam system will assist officers with their enforcement work by automatically tracking motorists with outstanding warrants, identifying duplicate or cloned licence plates, alerting them to stolen vehicles or vehicles that have been identified as having been involved in criminal acts, and more.

“This highway patrol unit is our latest investment in public safety. We hope this helps road users feel safer on our main highways. We’ll keep going with investments like this, and new cutting-edge crime-fighting technology, until every resident feels safer in Cape Town,” says Hill-Lewis.

“This unit also signals the first shift to a 24-hour traffic service operation in Cape Town. And, the inclusion of technology highlights our focus on innovation in crime-fighting, to make our officers more effective in their work. The activation of this unit is well-timed, as we prepare for the festive season, which requires all hands on deck to ensure a safe and happy time for our residents and visitors alike.”

The city reveals the patrol unit currently consists of 25 new traffic officers, four new senior inspectors, one principal inspector and two administrative staff members, with plans to double this capacity in the next financial year.

They will conduct visible patrols, enforce traffic laws, and respond to incidents detected through the freeway management system cameras.

Officers will also be on the N2 at Hospital Bend and Mew Way during peak hours, to respond to any incidents that may affect traffic flow or public safety.

The highway patrol unit will assist with area enforcement, and other specialist units like the Ghost Squad will be deployed where needed, according to the statement.

Alderman JP Smith, Cape Town's mayoral committee member for safety and security, adds: “This unit was conceptualised several years ago, but the launch was delayed by the pandemic. I’m very happy to see the idea finally come to life, for the benefit of road users, and safer commuting.

“It will also be a welcome boost to our existing efforts to mitigate the risks posed by criminals on our highways. A dedicated highway patrol unit is a best-case practice that is used in leading policing agencies around the world. As Cape Town continues to model its future policing functions in line with international standards, this unit is a welcome addition to the existing enforcement services.”