City of Johannesburg executive mayor Amos Masondo has taken official delivery of a R42 million inner-city electronic surveillance system consisting of 216 surveillance cameras linked to an operational control centre manned by specially trained surveillance staff.
The centre is being operated by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and the South African Police Services “on a 24/7 basis” and is integrated with reaction units from the JMPD, police and emergency services.
Monitoring crews are trained to read body language to anticipate incidents almost before they happen. Incidents taking place any time of day or night are captured on digital video camera, relayed instantaneously to the operation centre`s secure 420 terabyte hard-drive and displayed on a bank of large video screens.
Operators who rotate throughout a 24-hour period are able to quickly assess the nature of the incident in order to dispatch an appropriate reaction team, be it SAPS, JMPD unit or medical emergency personnel.
The electronic surveillance system that costs R1.2 million a month to operate – was installed by Omega Risk Solutions as part of a comprehensive risk management for the city government.
“Our experience has shown crime declines where criminals know they can be detected – and apprehended in no time at all,” says Omega technical director Thys le Grange.
An added advantage of constant camera surveillance is that faulty traffic lights or obstruction in traffic flow can be detected and dealt with immediately. City-owned utility companies like Pikit-Up and City Power also use the cameras to detect service delivery backlogs and infringements.
A world-first – according to Omega – for Johannesburg is a dedicated set of computers in the surveillance centre configured to recognise motor vehicle registration numbers in order to identify stolen cars or those with outstanding traffic fines.
Masondo says Johannesburg is “a world-class African city” and therefore “opted for a world-class solution” to fight crime.
“With this integrated system, we ensure greater security for our business community, citizens and visitors – especially with 2010 and the Confederations Cup next year. We also ensure a clean inner-city and improved management of our utilities, like power and water”, Masondo said at a ceremony marking the occasion.
JMPD chief Commissioner Chris Ngcobo says the surveillance system will allow him to use his resources more effectively. “I believe the very existence of this system also helps to dispel negative perceptions of inner-city crime. Now people can feel safe to walk the streets of Johannesburg.”