Johannesburg – Security Camera Poles for Public Surveillance Network

Vumatel subsidiary Vumacam is planning to roll out a total of 15 000 security cameras across the city of Johannesburg. And they are in a hurry – deployment is expected to be completed in 12 months.

Vumacam’s deployment is supported by the City of Johannesburg. The City has also granted it wayleaves.  Once a wayleave (property owner’s permission to dig their land) is granted, it normally takes 8-12 weeks to setup a CCTV camera.

The citywide CCTV network will offer 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. There are 917 camera poles installed around the city, however, which when fully populated will hold over 3,000 cameras. The live CCTV footage is sold to security companies that operate in the suburbs, says Ashleigh Parry, managing director of Vumacam. The video traffic generate a staggering 30 petabytes or 30,000 terabytes (30TB) of data per month.

The system  includes license plate recognition (LPR) functionality.

Vumacam is a joint venture between Vumatel (51%) and Imfezeko Holdings (49%). The cost to cover Johannesburg with CCTV systems will be about  R500-million.

Cape Town will be next.

Niel Schoeman, Vumatel co-founder said the primary focus for now is on security but there are “many other potential ancillary benefits” –  it may also become just part of a wider network of smart city solutions in due course. “Although we’re primarily focused on keeping communities safer, we see the need for cities to become smarter and more efficient. We hope that we can be a part of that exciting future. These smart-city initiatives could possibly tackle congestion, energy efficiency and emergency care response times, to name a few. As more sensors, and low-power wide area (LPWA) networks grow, smart city technologies will develop, ultimately giving city administrators a more detailed and up-to-date picture of what is happening and ways in which to solve problems.”

Will these ‘camera poles’ be fitted with cellular antenna (Wi-Fi/4G/5G/”small cells”) at a later stage?

We are all aware of the current court case in Durban where residents were given the impression that they are getting security camera poles, when in fact the poles were used for the placement of cell tower antennas.

Already in 2014 MTN South Africa secured a tender from City Power, Johannesburg’s electricity supply agency, to turn lampposts into cellular base stations. MTN South Africa’s chief technology officer at that stage, Eben Albertyn, told TechCentral:  “The project will also bring fibre closer to people’s homes. This will play an important part in MTN’s broader plan to roll out home fibre in South Africa and will also help communities install security camera infrastructure in their neighbourhoods.”

Can Vumatel/Vumacam give the public the assurance that their poles will not be used for the same purpose?

“Smart “poles, Smart Cities, 5G, The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Internet of Things:

Marketed by the industry as ” innovative features that streamline the smart city transformation”.

The humble lamppost (or any pole) can be turned into a smart pole (with hidden antennas).

A streetlight can be an environmental monitoring station, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a charging station for electric vehicles, or an ideal site to position security or traffic management cameras.

Because they can incorporate software controls, and sensors that can receive and transmit information, they support all kinds of smart city applications.

True 5G, when making use of millimeter wave technology will require an increased number of ‘small cells’ (mm waves do not travel very well). Will it be a case of any pole will do?

5G take-up will be a powerful driver of smart poles and the prospect of adding new applications to poles over time is a powerful selling point for the industry.

In 2018 the City of Johannesburg announced an upgrade to their existing CCTV system – to include ‘smart technology’ such as facial recognition. But a closer look at the tech indicates that it could lead to false arrests, the targeting of innocent citizens,and unfair discrimination against minority groups. An interesting article below by Heidi Swart , a journalist who has extensively investigated surveillance and intelligence services in South Africa. The article was commissioned by the Media Policy and Democracy Project, an initiative of the University of Johannesburg’s department of journalism, film and TV and Unisa’s department of communication science.

Joburg’s new hi-tech surveillance cameras: A threat to minorities that could see the law targeting thousands of innocents

Meet Vumacam, Vumatel’s smart security play for Joburg’s suburbs

Lampposts to become broadband towers
Dark Fibre Africa sees 5G as big growth opportunity
How Vumacam’s CCTV system works
These Joburg suburbs are getting 15,000 CCTV cameras
Vumacam – Vumatel’s CCTV system to keep South Africa safe

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