In the current climate of hijackings, robberies and unlawful syndicates, it is hard to imagine a world where crime is drastically reduced, or even wiped out completely. However, according to Warren Myers, CEO of South Africa’s on-demand security and medical response platform AURA, this is entirely within our reach.
In the third of a series of monthly webinars discussing and finding solutions to the crime situation in South Africa, Myers was joined by anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee and Kagiso Khaole, Head of Mobility Operations at Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, to talk about how new, innovative technology is being used to outsmart criminals.
“As criminals become smarter, and rates of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and corporate crime rise, we need to change our approach to how we deal with them. Crime often functions like a business, and, like any business, it evolves and becomes more sophisticated, and sophisticated crime needs sophisticated solutions,” says Myers. For this, partnerships and collaboration between security companies, corporates, the community and the police are key, and innovations in technology are making this possible.
One way technology is helping disrupt crime is through the creation of a cashless society. “Digital payment apps and mobile wallets are creating a society where there is less physical cash moving around, which will eventually eradicate a lot of our crime issues as adoption of this technology grows,” says Myers.
Another way technology is tackling the crime problem is by improving response capabilities when incidents do happen. Myers argues that it isn’t enough to send just one responder to deal with syndicate-related crimes when they happen, as the good guys need to come in stronger and harder. “AURA’s platform enables us to coordinate mass dispatch protocols to the scenes of crimes because of the technology installed in thousands of armed response vehicles. With multiple responders closing in on a crime scene within 5-6 minutes and positioned at the location’s exit routes, a situation can quickly be neutralised. When all the good guys come together as a team, using the right technology, it is far more difficult for the bad guys to get away with unlawful and often violent activities, and makes it riskier for them to attempt these crimes in the future.”
Abramjee says that a multi-faceted approach is needed to get ahead of rising crime, and agrees that collaborations between business, law enforcement agencies and society are crucial. “Along with making use of technology such as AURA’s on-demand armed and medical response platform, we need to educate the nation to be proactive and be aware of the technology available to assist in times of trouble. Leaving South Africa to go to a safer country is not the solution. We need to join hands and work together to wipe out crime so we can stay in this country, our home.”
In his time at Uber, Khaole has come to appreciate the power of using technology to help improve safety on the platform – especially when it comes to empowering users with information that helps minimise risk. “Organised crime doesn’t stand a chance against an organised society,” he asserts, adding that if we continue to innovate, be proactive and work together, we can eventually get to a place where we can predict crime and prevent it by applying artificial intelligence to big data. “It sounds like science fiction, but tech companies are advancing quickly and, if you think about it, it is something that is already in your hands today – the magic of technology.”
Myers says that while crime rates in South Africa are unacceptably high, there are reasons to be hopeful: “The rate at which technology is being developed to fight crime is completely overpowering what is being used to commit crime. The problem is, our society doesn’t believe that we can fix this, but with the hyperscale technology tools now available, it is going to become very difficult to be a criminal in the next five years. This message needs to be filtered down into society so that everyone can see the vision of where we can get to with these new tech tools, how we can win the fight and ensure everyone’s fundamental human right to safety is in place. This will stop people getting on planes and contributing to the brain drain and the ripple effects of that.”
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