Microsoft tech to combat crime in Durban’s inner city

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Durban, 30 Oct 2019
One of the metro police safer cities unit vehicles is on display at GovTech 2019. (Source: Microsoft SA)
One of the metro police safer cities unit vehicles is on display at GovTech 2019. (Source: Microsoft SA)

Software giant Microsoft SA has partnered with the Durban Metro Police Service to introduce a smart policing system in that city.

Microsoft SA MD Lillian Barnard confirmed the news this week at the government technology conference, GovTech 2019, where eThekwini Municipality’s safer cities unit is being showcased.

The State IT Agency is this week hosting the 13 instalment of GovTech under the theme “Digital Transformation: Gearing Towards the 4IR and Beyond”, attracting government officials and private sector representatives.

According to Microsoft SA, through the use of dashboard cameras in patrol cars, automatic number plate recognition and other cameras, metro police will be able to act to deter criminal activities based on data analysis through predictive modelling and machine learning algorithms.

Barnard explained the partnership will help metro police increase its situational awareness.

“As much as they are getting proactive information as to what they are walking into, they can take action and at the same time, we can provide safety to them because they can almost pre-empt what they are about to deal with.

“What’s great about this solution is that it’s already rolled out in Cape Town and now we are doing it in KZN. This is also how we will allow our police force to scale, to make sure they improve community safety and at the same time they will also have the ability to protect themselves.”     

In a video posted on the Microsoft SA Twitter account, metro police spokesperson Parboo Sewpersad says the project will first commence in the inner city zone of Durban. “There is a project area which we have identified. Within the project area, smart policing using Microsoft technologies will be introduced.”

South Africa has recently been witnessing an uptick in the use of technology-driven solutions to fight crime.

In July, it was revealed the Integrated Intelligence Operation Centre (IIOC) Reaction Unit, which focuses on crimes through CCTV monitoring specifically in the inner city, has helped the Johannesburg Metro Police Department in its efforts to combat crime.

The IIOC is 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.