Gauteng taps into Vumacam’s tech to fight crime

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 14 Feb 2024
Vumacam CEO Ricky Croock and Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Vumacam CEO Ricky Croock and Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) will tap into Vumacam’s CCTV camera network, in an effort totackle the high levels of crime in the province.

The GPG has also set its sights on deploying drones that will “monitor the skies”, said Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi yesterday at the announcement of the partnership.

According to Vumacam, the provincial government will have immediate access to a network of over 6 000 cameras in Gauteng and advanced crime-fighting technologies, as well as 5 000 partner cameras nationwide.

Vumacam’s partner cameras will help ensure any known vehicle involved in criminal activity in another province triggers an immediate alert if seen by the cameras within Gauteng, it said.

Additionally, GPG and Vumacam have committed to extending camera coverage to underserved areas, particularly within townships, informal settlements and hostel areas.

“I’m gatvol with crime,”stated Lesufi. “We can’t be held hostage in our country, in our own province bycriminals. We can’t in our country, in our own province and in our own houses be at the mercy of criminals, and pretend and behave as if we’ve lost this battle.

“When we signed [the partnership for] these cameras, we are not signing it for pleasure…we are signing it to protect South Africans in our own country.”

The premier added that GPG will deploy 180 drones that will monitor the skies in the province. “The problem of crime in this country and this province is that the motor vehicle is the common denominator. They are either going to escape with it, the car’s number plate is fraudulent, the car was hijacked somewhere, or it cannot be accounted for.

“To fight crime, these cameras must help us get the registration [number] of these cars.”

Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi inside the Vumacam control room.
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi inside the Vumacam control room.

The GPG and Vumacam partnership comes as the provincial government has prioritised strengthening its crime-fighting efforts with technology-driven solutions at the forefront.

In the 2023 State of the Province address, Lesufi declared the battle against crime an apex priority, confirming plans for CCTV camera network surveillance in crime hotspots.

In October 2022, Lesufi tasked Gauteng’s Department of e-Government to come up with smart, innovative technology solutions, to help deal with the scourge of crime in the province.

Further, the department is mandated to ensure technology strengthens the immediate fight against crime, corruption, vandalism and lawlessness.

According to Vumacam, the e-government department will provide smart integrated CCTV cameras-as-a-service to all its clients, to increase and improve service delivery through greater efficiency.

Vumacam’s network will enhance a range of services by deploying CCTV cameras in the GPG, providing evidence to relevant enforcement agencies, maintaining public order and preventing anti-social behaviour, it noted.

Verified alerts will be escalated, ensuring any false alerts are filtered out, and only actionable alerts are escalated through Vumacam’s proof platform.

The partnership also builds on existing public sector collaborations that employ Vumacam’s technology, including the Integrated Intelligence Operations Centre, which sees the company work with the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department.

It also forms part of the ‘Eyes and Ears’ initiative between the South African Police Service and Business Against Crime South Africa, a division within Business Leadership South Africa.

The collaboration between municipal, provincial, national and private law enforcement has seen over 400 interceptions registered across Gauteng monthly.

Vumacam CEO Ricky Croock commented: “We believe the alerts from our extensive network delivered through our software platform, and verified by expertly trained operators, will result in a new normal in the fight against crime in SA’s economic heartland.

“As we continue to foster collaboration to fight crime between the private and public sector through technology, we continue to invest in and grow our infrastructure and platform.

“We believe we can help SA become a safer place through the power of video and technology, delivered by a centralised platform that connects disparate operators, and that will become the de-facto standard in all control rooms.”

Lesufi concluded: “I welcome this partnership and I know it’s been coming for quite some time. I’m happy that finally 6 000 powerful face recognition, car registration cameras are being unleashed in our streets in Gauteng.

“Vumacam, I don’t want these [CCTV cameras] in Sandton, I want to see them in Sebokeng, Thembisa, in Diepsloot – I want them in the middle of an informal settlement because all lives are important and must be protected. These [CCTV cameras] must be spread all over.”