Collaborative security in communities

Issue 5 2020

Communities can fundamentally change the face of crime. Research into communities and crime decline in the American Sociological Review found that for every 10 organisations that focused on crime and community life in a city of 100 000 residents, there was a subsequent drop in murder rates (9%), violent crime rates (6%) and property crime rates (4%).

By building a sense of community and raising awareness, these communities used social cohesion to combat crime. Something that, according to Phathizwe Malinga, managing director of SqwidNet, has immense potential to change lives in South Africa.

“Community-based security solutions have immense potential to change how communities tackle crime and the safety of residents,” he adds. “These solutions don’t have to be expensive or use the latest in technology, limiting its use to high-income consumers. All you need is to combine innovation with steadily dropping technology prices and the growth of low-cost networks, like Sigfox, to create a solution that has value for low-income communities.”

One such solution is Jonga, a security system made up of motion sensor detectors that send alert messages to a dedicated Jonga app if they detect intrusion.

The Jonga platform was developed by Ntsako Mgiba, founding CEO of Jonga, after his aunt’s home was broken into in her local community. Her home was one of six that were targeted and none of her goods were ever recovered. The incident highlighted how unresponsive the police were when it came to the needs of low-income communities, and how hard it was for members of these communities to protect their homes due to the high cost of security systems. Mgiba designed Jonga to fill the hole left behind by security teams and police, providing people with a tool that would allow them to increase their security while fostering a deeper sense of community.

“This South African-developed solution is unique because it provides communities with an affordable solution that they can use to protect their homes and their loved ones, ultimately changing their lives,” says Malinga. “Designed specifically for the rigorous African continent and its vast spans of countryside, it can connect people and communities by giving them control over their security.”

Jonga makes up a web of connected devices that use the Sigfox network to send early warning messages to people who can react to the situation. The Sigfox network is a nationwide wireless network dedicated to connecting objects to the Internet, commonly referred to as IoT, The Internet of Things. Its low power demands and exceptional range make it the ideal choice for connecting remote assets and assets-in-transit across wide areas and distances. This made Sigfox the ideal choice for the development of Jonga.

SqwidNet, the exclusive operator of Sigfox in South Africa, provides the Jonga device with the ability to be used in highly dense urban dwellings. This makes Jonga a compelling value proposition for residents in townships and other dense low-income areas. If we look at its inner workings, it uses an Iris Motion Sensor that has a battery life of six months, making it cost-effective to operate for long periods of time. Jonga is rechargeable via USB, which allows you to recharge it using a laptop, should there be no access to electricity. Jonga also has a built-in siren to scare off the intruders.

“Low-income communities need solutions like this, solutions that resonate with them,” says Malinga. “The app and the sensors are customised to fit a very specific niche and they are very easy to use. There’s no need to undergo extensive training in order to use the system, anyone can install and use the system. What’s more, members of the community can become engaged with the management of the Jonga platform and can use their skillsets to become ambassadors of the brand.”

The Jonga Agent Network is an innovative way of driving the adoption of the solution through communities. It gives local community leaders or engaged community members the opportunity to promote Jonga to other communities in ways that benefit both them and the security system.

Certainly, Jonga has made its mark on the communities for which it was designed. Developed for a specific need and community, the solution puts the control back into the hands of the people. It’s powerful not just because of its technology and accessibility, but because of how it empowers people.

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