Vumacam expands SafeCity initiative to Tshwane
According to the company, the first phase of the rollout in Tshwane has begun, with poles going live at the beginning of August and hundreds more to be installed in coming months.
Its network and technology currently result in up to 40 apprehensions a day in Johannesburg, it notes.
In a statement, Vumacam says several security providers have already signed up as partners in Tshwane and negotiations are ongoing with other security providers that will come onboard over the next few months.
It adds that security companies joining the initiative will receive access to surveillance across the city, with supportive technology that uses algorithms to detect unusual or suspicious behaviour.
“We see high volumes of interceptions per day in Johannesburg through the use of our technology and collaboration with our private security and law enforcement partners,” says Michael Varney, chief commercial officer at Vumacam.
“While we have just launched the initiative in Tshwane, the response and uptake has already been impressive, and we have no doubt we will see the tide turn against crime in Tshwane as it has in Johannesburg.”
The CCTV operator uses a network of cameras that utilise technology to flag suspicious activity and vehicles in public spaces. The company escalates these to private security companies and law enforcement, which are part of the initiative.
The technology available to the companies that join the initiative includes specialised licence plate recognition (LPR) cameras that detect suspicious vehicles, where the licence plate has been placed on SAPS databases.
Vumacam explains that LPR ensures that if a crime is committed in one area, a vehicle detected in a crime can be picked up when it passes cameras in any other SafeCity area.
“We do not use facial recognition, as we believe it is unreliable and therefore is lacking both ethically and in terms of being effective,” says Varney.
“Our algorithms are behaviour-based and have been instrumental in preventing crime and apprehending criminals engaged in very serious crimes in Johannesburg – from kidnapping to assault, murder, hijacking and theft. This is managed in a way that does not impact law-abiding citizens’ privacy. It also decreases the risk of false arrests, inaccurate information, provides safe location oversight for our partners, and gives us and the public peace of mind that our network respects South Africans’ right to safety and privacy.”
Vumacam says while the cameras and technology are privately-funded, they have proven benefits to public safety.
“This is particularly true where SAPS and Tshwane Metro Police are supported by our technology and where Tshwane residents have our cameras and technology watching out for them as they go about their daily lives, travel to or from work, or enjoy public spaces with friends and family,” concludes Varney.
Vumacam launched the SafeCity initiative last year in Johannesburg. The company invested R60 million to kick-start the initiative with funds allocated to lighting up, installing and maintaining 1 850 new cameras across Johannesburg.
The company extended its camera network in Ekurhuleni last year. The extension saw Vumacam promise to deploy an additional 600 cameras in the city. Vumacam has poles and live cameras in 26 suburbs in Ekurhuleni.