Johannesburg, 30 Nov 2023
Born out of the urgent need to provide vital vehicle intelligence to the greater security ecosystem in South Africa, NAVIC (National Vehicle Intelligence Cloud) recently embarked on a transformative journey, evolving from a traditional automatic number plate recognition (ANPR also known as LPR) service provider into a formidable force in the realm of vehicle analytics.
NAVIC’s cutting-edge technology and investigative tools have been deployed nationally across a diverse spectrum of South African sectors and institutions. From policing structures to insurers, and tracking and logistics companies, NAVIC's impact has been far-reaching. However, a significant challenge confronted the company, primarily around long-term scalability and data storage. As the foremost national provider of ANPR and vehicle analytics services, NAVIC urgently needed a partner capable of delivering and supporting a robust, secure and durable solution.
The business challenge
As NAVIC’s footprint expanded, they recognised the potential for a broader impact beyond security-related products, specifically concerning the size of their data sets. This expansion naturally led them towards analytical solutions within the security industry.
From day one, NAVIC grappled with a persistent issue inherent to its business model. Their operations relied on receiving real-time alerts triggered by events such as vehicles passing ANPR cameras. These events generate diverse data types, including images and metadata, spanning the entire national network. With an astonishing volume of over 125 million monthly events, each required validation against specific databases, and the data load was immense. Maintaining the integrity of this data was paramount, and NAVIC was resolute in ensuring that the data remained unaltered, unedited and undeleted – an essential commitment for their information's trustworthiness.
Given its stance on immutable data, NAVIC realised it required a robust solution and took the decision to change cloud providers. While it had previously worked with AWS Ireland, NAVIC decided to return to an AWS environment because of the relationship between AWS and Vodacom in South Africa. The local partnership gave NAVIC the confidence it needed that it would have its data needs met with all the benefits of local support.
Presently housing an impressive 300 terabytes of data and approximately 10 billion images, the company realised that the effectiveness of their core offering would depend on three core elements:
- The expansion of their ANPR camera network.
- The growth of users contributing to and utilising the system.
- The identification and loading of vehicles of interest needing to be monitored.
These three elements were identified as pivotal in their industry. Their goal was to transform these assets into advanced services, with initial emphasis on anti-fraud services in the insurance sector. Further advanced tools will provide additional insurtech services as well as services sectors like logistics, tracking, marketing, automobile, traffic management and others, with the mission of securing communities remaining at its core.
To achieve this, NAVIC recognised the need to develop new data models capable of optimising data exploitation in close to real-time, and alignment with a partner to capitalise on emerging opportunities swiftly. What’s more, NAVIC understood that it needed an offering that could assist in large-scale data integration with its ANPR partners.
The Vodacom solution
It was during this time that a reseller partner introduced NAVIC to Vodacom, sparking discussions about potential services. These conversations went beyond hosted service provision; they encompassed the broader spectrum of partnership with Vodacom, ensuring that NAVIC had the right relationship to find symbiotic solutions needed by a market hungry for new and advanced intelligent services.
"When considering the possibility of collaborating with Vodacom, our objective was to assess it within the framework of Vodacom's approach to navigating the dynamic business landscape in South Africa. We aimed to explore how our business could establish a mutually beneficial partnership with Vodacom,” said Jason Berry, CEO of NAVIC.
Vodacom's approach to addressing NAVIC's needs was both comprehensive and inclusive. They took the initiative to thoroughly understand NAVIC's problem statement and enlisted the expertise of AWS subject matter experts. This collaborative effort resulted in the effective deployment and reliable data storage of the Navic.cloud platform, offering a reliable and scalable environment for NAVIC's teams.
What made Vodacom's offering truly compelling was the inclusion of a managed services package. This comprehensive solution not only addressed the infrastructure requirements, but also ensured the ongoing management and optimisation of the services provided. Vodacom's approach proved to be one of the catalysts NAVIC needed to propel their operations to the next level.
NAVIC adopted an AWS solution for its near real-time storage needs, particularly Amazon S3, known for its high-performance cloud storage and infinite object storage capabilities.
The long-term strategy for their image archive repository involves a complete transition to cloud storage, making use of Amazon S3 Glacier, which intelligently monitors and tiers files into cold storage. This structured approach leverages cloud-native intelligence storage tiering, enabling efficient handling of massive data and ensuring data retention indefinitely. Additionally, Amazon's cloud-native databases facilitate rapid querying and utilisation of the stored images. The new system offers improved performance, scalability and cost-effectiveness.
“In the end, Vodacom has demonstrated a consistent history of successful collaborations and alignment with various companies in our industry, regardless of their size. They have consistently contributed to the industry's growth and development," Berry commented.
Partnering for success
The journey began with the seamless and stable transition of NAVIC’s platform, securing their data and co-ordinating efforts among various teams. This approach provided a foundation to leverage the partnership for mutual benefit, with the goal of actively contributing to positive change in the country.
The company highlighted the monthly publication of results, showcasing quantifiable differences made in areas such as reducing the number of firearms on the streets, profiling criminals, stopping and recovering vehicles, performing arrests and otherwise automated and manually verifying licence plates of vehicles of interest (VOI) for SAPS, Business Against Crime and law enforcement. Additionally, NAVIC published estimated figures for the confiscation or recovery of stolen goods and vehicles.
"A significant aspect of our business has always been centred on providing sustainable services to communities. Our primary goal in this regard is maintaining effectiveness, sustainability, and relevance to the communities we serve. This is why I advocated for this transition,” said Berry.
“To achieve this, our primary objective is to preserve and secure our platform, data and associated systems and services. This approach supports various opportunities for us as technology evolves and our service offering to various sectors expand. Whether it involves analysing traffic trends for traffic management or assessing LSM (lifestyle measurement) based on vehicle characteristics, we can always rely on a secure and stable base data set.
"In this context, the provision of a platform and system based on this data set provides virtually limitless possibilities to assist various sectors in a rapidly changing environment, all while protecting those communities we serve. Several market sectors can look forward to various high impact services based on large and secure data sets and machine learning AI systems to dramatically enhance their businesses,” Berry summed up.