IBM, Joburg address safety

Johannesburg, 18 Nov 2011
Read time 2min 30sec

Technology giant IBM has teamed up its Executive Service Corps (ESC) with the City of Johannesburg (COJ) to develop a five-year public safety strategy.

The collaboration process is in line with the COJ's commitment to become a smarter city as part of the 2040 vision. It says a smart city employs IT to sense, analyse, integrate, and react intelligently to improve the activities of the city across utilities and city services, the environment, people, and local industry.

The aim is to create a better and more sustainable place to live, work, and run a business.

More than crime

The pro bono project will see a defined five-year roadmap for smart public safety.

The roadmap consists of the specific public safety actions to be implemented, by area of public safety in specified time frames. “The primary purpose of the roadmap is to establish the key milestones that need be undertaken by COJ to move toward smart public safety in the next five years,” says Ron Dombroski, ESC team member and director for global market analysis at IBM.

COJ MMC for public safety Matshido Mfikoe says as Johannesburg strives to become a smart city, making it safer, especially for its more vulnerable residents, is a priority. “It's a priority that requires creative thinking in order to find effective long-term solutions.”

The city adds that the ESC undertook an intensive three-week review of existing COJ project initiatives and public safety operations. Key resource challenges, such as funding, expertise, and inconsistent business community support were identified, along with execution challenges and structural challenges.

“A big five of safety elements were identified together with details of how crime prevention and investigation, asset management and infrastructure safety, crisis and emergency response, community education and engagement, and governance and integrated intelligence would integrate into a single roadmap.”

Mfikoe says community safety and fulfilling the COJ's approach towards becoming a smarter city is not only about curbing crime.

“It is about a multitude of factors as the level of the individual and community that contribute to the well-being of the city's people, for example: traffic safety; hazards such as fire, weather-related, and environmental factors; crowding and conditions of deprivation; family systems; and community network.”

Technology solutions

For the engagement with the COJ, IBM worked with CDC Development Solutions, a non-profit organisation, for planning and logistical support.

IBM says Africa is a special focus for its Corporate Service Corps, as the programme's benefits match Africa's need for highly skilled problem-solvers to develop technology infrastructure, as well as civic, business and social institutions.

It has deployed more than 300 employees in approximately 40 teams to SA, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Egypt.

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