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How AI is helping in the fight against crime in South Africa

Ensure Security said it was rolling out an extensive CCTV network throughout Durban. Picture: Supplied

Ensure Security said it was rolling out an extensive CCTV network throughout Durban. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 8, 2023


AI conversations are all the hype right now. While there are quarters of society nervous about how AI can "take over" the workforce, a private security company believes it could help in fighting crime.

Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Services Group, Wahl Bartmann, said safety agencies could look at incorporating AI to help squeeze criminal elements from communities.

"Greater city-wide access to camera networks outside of our standard areas of operation will assist with crime prevention and investigations and allow us the opportunity to monitor more areas and stop criminals before they get to our neighbourhoods with the aid of more advanced surveillance software, including AI technology," he said.

Bartmann said communities are turning to AI tech to protect communities.

"At least we would expect authorities to concentrate resources where the majority of the attacks are taking place. Gauteng has once again come out tops as the highest risk province, with 37% of the total attacks taking place here, followed by the Eastern Cape with 20% and KwaZulu-Natal with 18%.

“Road robberies are responsible for just over half of all attacks (52%) followed by cross-pavement robberies at 33%," he said.

Bartmann said this year, Fidelity ADT partnered with Vumacam and other security providers across the region, to roll out an innovative SafeCity Initiative in Gauteng activating 1 850 cameras across the city, of which 350 new cameras have been installed in previously unprotected areas.

"As a SafeCity partner, Fidelity ADT and other providers will now have access to the full network of over 6 000 of Vumacam’s cameras to gain city-wide situational awareness critical to understanding criminal patterns and to assist with crime prevention and investigations – all intended to create safer, more protected communities," he said.

Ensure Security said it was rolling out an extensive CCTV network throughout Durban. Picture: Supplied

Commenting on the latest crime statistics, Bartmann said the numbers were concerning.

"Of particular concern was the large increase in contact crimes against women, with attempted murder leading the pack with 21.5%.

“Another concern is the unacceptably high increase in cash-in-transit robberies across the country, where armoured vehicles are being ambushed and bombed," he said.

Bartmann said an increase in violent crime and easy access to firearms was another concern.

He said on the cash-in-transit side, the sector had, according to the latest Cash in Transit Association of South Africa report, seen a total of 102 cash-in- transit robberies across the country in the first four months of 2023 (January – April), an 11% increase on the same period last year.

He says the problem with the attacks is the perpetrators are so sophisticated that they move around depending on where they assess the gaps to be. For example, in April 40% of the CIT robberies suddenly moved to KwaZulu-Natal.

On a positive note, the SAPS were able to arrest 12 people in April suspected of being involved in some of these incidents, but the attacks are costing the economy money. These perpetrators are so sophisticated that in April 70% of the attacks were successful and resulted in cash loss and this cost has to be borne somewhere.

“For the average citizen concerned about their personal safety, the way in which we live our daily lives makes a big difference in limiting our potential risk of exposure to crime, so we need a renewed focus on personal safety measures. The first step is to live safer lives and to be more careful about our movements wherever we may be," Bartmann said.