Have you wondered about the camera poles popping up in suburbs across Johannesburg and who’s building them? The mystery has been solved: Vumatel subsidiary Vumacam is responsible — it is building a citywide CCTV network offering ultra-high-definition video feeds to security companies and ultimately law-enforcement agencies.
Vumacam is utilising Vumatel’s fibre network infrastructure in the city to connect the cameras, more than 900 which have already been deployed (capable of carrying 3 000 CCTV cameras). It plans to roll out a total of 15 000 cameras across the city, with much of the deployment expected to be completed in the next 12 months. Vumacam plans to sell the video feeds to neighbourhood security companies by area.
The “secure public surveillance network” includes advanced software features that will allow for the automatic detection of stolen vehicles using a link to a central database, for example.
Vumacam is a joint venture between Vumatel (51%) and Imfezeko Holdings (49%). The company plans to spend about R500-million covering Johannesburg with CCTV systems. It has received support and wayleaves from the City of Johannesburg for the deployment. The primary focus for now is on security, but there are many other potential ancillary benefits, said Vumatel co-founder Niel Schoeman.
Schoeman said the network will use its own fibre in Vumatel’s ducts and the fibre networks of other providers. The video traffic — it will generate 30 petabytes of data a month — won’t have an impact on Vumatel broadband customers.
“Vumacam’s vision is ambitious: to make South Africa a safer place by providing a CCTV platform that transforms how security and communities work together,” the company said in statement. “We’ve created a solution that not only contributes to the efficiencies and effectiveness, we also envision it will, over time, contribute to the success of South Africa socioeconomically.”
Schoeman said the Vumacam solution offers advantages over neighbourhood CCTV initiatives, which are deployed as “islands”. If a crime happens in one suburb, a suspect’s getaway vehicle can’t be tracked from suburb to suburb, for example. Vumacam’s system can monitor the suspect vehicle as it moves across the city, helping in crime-fighting efforts.
“CCTV monitoring is not new to suburbs in South Africa, which are traditionally put up by resident associations, security companies or schools in disparate, and unconnected geographical communities. These isolated ‘islands’ do not speak to each other, and the footage is often grainy and unusable due to inconsistent non-fibre network connections,” the company said.
The Vumacam system is compliant with the Protection of Personal Information (Popi) Act. “Our feed is only available to vetted security companies who enter into a contract with us, including agreeing to periodic audits, to ensure they abide by our strict terms and conditions, to monitor public spaces and track vehicles of interest. Private individuals are, in fact, unable to access recordings other than by following the Promotion of Access to Information Act process. Furthermore, we ensure that we adhere rigidly to the Popi Act and have acquired various legal opinions to ensure we are compliant.”
The cameras have licence plate recognition (LPR) functionality. Every vehicle passing an LPR camera is checked against multiple databases of verified vehicles of interest, including police-listed stolen vehicles, forged plates and perpetrators on the run. Security professionals monitor feed, overlay analytics and access the LPR solution from a centralised video management system.
Vumacam’s video-management platform has built-in functions for encryption, strong password protection and immutable time-stamping. This ensures that footage can be viewed only by authorised viewers and prevents the video from being altered or manipulated.
In terms of expansion plans, Schoeman indicated that Cape Town will likely be the next city to get the Vumacam system once Vumatel’s fibre network has reached critical mass there. — © 2019 NewsCentral Media