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Cape Town’s fight against crime is going hi-tech – with drones, cameras, and sensors

POSTED: 10th Nov

The City of Cape Town is forging ahead with its tech-led crimefighting plan that will see drones monitoring hotspots, a specialised Highway Patrol Unit automatically scanning number plates, and the return of gunshot sensors.

Cape Town prides itself as Africa's tech capital. Bolstered by foreign investment in the software and IT services sector, the City, described as the continent's Silicon Valley, is actively on a mission to attract international tech businesses and support start-ups that will lead to employment opportunities.

The tech sector in Cape Town and Stellenbosch already employs more than double the number of people directly supported by the industry in both Nairobi and Lagos combined, said City of Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis on Tuesday.

The mayor's comments on Cape Town's lively tech sector came as a welcome to delegates participating in the Africa Tech Festival 2022. The event, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), welcomes hundreds of speakers, thousands of attendees, and exhibitors from around the world.

"It [the Africa Tech festival being held at the CTICC] also fits with our direction of travel in the City of Cape Town local government, because we are pushing, with real ambition and aspiration, to move our government into the digital age in the years ahead," said Hill-Lewis.

The City of Cape Town is pushing to have "every aspect of governance activity" digitally transformed over the next decade at a cost of almost R15 billion. To accelerate this "digital-first bias", the City has launched a tech internship programme to find "South Africa's best minds", said Hill-Lewis. This will develop skills in software development, coding, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virtual reality for public applications.

Coinciding with this digital transformation project and internship programme is the City's bid to keep residents safe through innovative tech-driven solutions.

"In the safety space, we are investing in additional officers on the ground, good old-fashioned bobbies on the beat and visible policing," said Hill-Lewis.

"But really, as all of you who run businesses understand, it's not sustainable to constantly add headcount, and so what's very exciting is the investment we're making in the safety tech space, using cutting-edge global technology to make the officers that we do have much more efficient and effective crimefighting officers."

An example of using tech to better battle crime, cited by the mayor, is the recent launch of Cape Town's new 24/7 Highway Patrol Unit. Announced at the start of November, this specialised unit, consisting of 25 traffic officers and five inspectors, will conduct visible patrols, enforce traffic laws, and respond to incidents detected through the Freeway Management System cameras. The City wants to double the unit's capacity in the next financial year.

You can read more on Business Insider

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