South Africa: Hala, a Syrian War Tech That Could Save Lives in Cape's Killing Fields


While predatory governments employ remote technology to inflict mass casualties, civilians in war-torn Syria are saving lives using simple existing technology and connectivity. Could a similar network be effective in the violence-torn Cape Flats and other crime-ridden areas?

Three years ago, the City of Cape Town, at a cost of R32-million, rolled out the US gunshot detection technology, ShotSpotter, in gang-ridden Hanover Park and Manenberg. The system is aimed not necessarily at protecting citizens, but assisting law enforcement to respond to outbreaks of violence and to act swiftly.

In 2017, presenting its annual report to the Western Cape standing committee on community safety, Metro police explained that while 3,404 gunshots had been detected in 1,140 incidents, and that 20 people had been injured, only nine suspects had been arrested.

The system has clearly failed, although JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, has intimated the city will continue to use the system and to roll it out to other areas in the grip of a violent gang turf war.

Considering the shocking number of violence-related deaths and injuries in Cape Town during the first six months of this year - almost 2,000 - the technology is clearly...

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