Crime-combating tech helps clean up Jozi

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 20 May 2019

The Integrated Intelligent Operation Centre (IIOC), recently launched by the City of Johannesburg (COJ), is reaping rewards in clamping down on escalating crime in the city.

Last week, mayor Herman Mashaba and public safety acting head of department David Tembe unveiled the new IIOC, aimed at integrating all municipal data on a single platform, in a bid to enable better decision-making between the city's emergency and law enforcement teams, using technology.

Set-up at the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) headquarters in Martindale, the nerve centre is powered by an extensive broadband network, which enables high-quality access to Internet-delivered services.

A key role of the IIOC is to host and monitor the JMPD's newly introduced quick-reaction, anti-crime unit which has deployed 80 officers and up to 400 closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras in the city's hotspots, to combat crime.

While the IIOC is designed to enable the COJ to integrate all existing municipal systems and use its available resources efficiently, at the moment the only active project is the JMPD's CCTV 24-hour camera surveillance, which has already captured a few crime incidents in the COJ, according to the JMPD.

An incident of attempted hijacking in Fordsburg, spotted via CCTV, prompted officers from the reaction unit to be immediately dispatched to the scene, where they were confronted by three armed men, hijacking a female victim.

"The suspects opened fire at the JMPD, who retaliated. Unfortunately, the suspects managed to escape in a silver Mercedes Benz. Thankfully, the victim was able to drive away from the scene," notes the JMPD.

The new unit also helped to apprehend a 21-year-old man who had grabbed a taxi passenger's phone through the vehicle's window.

In a separate incident, a metro police officer was wounded after four suspects opened fire at officers who approached them during a patrol.

"The IIOC fuses countless streams of complex data and information, which is readily made available for analysis and better decision-making," says Neani Mulaudzi, network operations manager at the Metro Trading Company, a city-owned entity charged with the deployment of broadband.

"The JMPD was prioritised in order to bolster safety and security in the city and to mitigate petty crime around the inner city. Other entities will be brought on board once deployment plans have been finalised. In future, the IIOC will serve as a modern data centre, allowing seamless interoperability, transmission, sharing and exchange of data packets between all city-owned entities."

The cameras have licence plate and face recognition technology capabilities, aimed at helping the unit to respond within three minutes of crime incidents, with guidance support from the IIOC.

"In future, CCTV surveillance in the IIOC will not only be used for crime detection and prevention but to monitor and analyse traffic flow and congestion, maintain active control over the maintenance of municipal services, improve emergency response times and overall service delivery," adds Mulaudzi.

The operation will be expanded by setting up cameras in other parts of the city.