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CoCT launches new plane technology in the fight against crime

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By Daanyaal Matthews

The City of Cape Town (COCT) has embarked on its “Eye in the Sky” programme that aims to curtail the issue of crime, from hijackings to smuggling, with a plane fitted with a high-tech camera. The technology is suited to work with numerous other departments, including the South African Police Service (SAPS) and The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), and COCT is actively in talks with numerous agencies to open the technology for assistance.

Speaking on VOC Breakfast on Monday, JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member of Safety and Security, further elaborated on the initiative by highlighting the city’s job in supporting SAPS and the capacity of this latest technology.

“The city has tried to support them (SAPS), especially on the technology front, where SAPS has struggled because of the lack of investment by the national government. And, in this regard, we have utilised tools that are commonly used in policing, such as CCTV cameras, where we annually expand our footprint of cameras, such as gunfire detection technology,” said Smith.

The plane has the capacity to stay airborne for several hours and will be deployed both in response to crime notifications as well as patrolling areas and working proactively. Smith highlighted the shoreline, arguing that the technology could be utilised to monitor the coastline or inland by monitoring land invasion operations while working with other departments.

The law enforcement industry has been plagued with inefficiencies ranging from monetary investment to qualified personnel. While COCT is actively working to curtail the issue of resource investment, the question of qualified personnel takes centre stage when discussing this latest technology. Alderman Smith elaborates on the process of procuring trained personnel, stating:

“We put this out to tender several times. The initial tenders were non-responsive. It was hard to find someone who could render the service. We knew it was possible; it has been done elsewhere in Africa and in Kruger National Park, so we knew it’s possible. It took us more than three years to get this tender functioning. The eventually successful supplier is extremely experienced with this, has operated internationally in different countries, and has tens of thousands of hours of air experience with them.”

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