A major crime-fighting move was recently launced in Johannesburg when First National Bank (FNB) partnered with Business Against Crime Surveillance Technology (BACST) and the City of Johannesburg to implement around-the-clock electronic surveillance of its branches and ATMs in the inner city of Johannesburg.
Nationally, FNB lost a significant amount to robberies, burglaries and ATM break-ins in the last year. At FNB's instigation, 14 city branches, both in and outside banking halls, have been installed with high-resolution cameras that are constantly monitored by BACST operators. The cameras are also fitted with sound detection, and at the first sign of a crime-related incident, a fast reaction SAPS, Metro Police or private security unit will be alerted. The FNB cameras form part of BACST's surveillance of the entire city centre. This means that criminals can be 'tracked & traced' wherever they attempt to make an escape, including the city's highways.
With less than a third of the planned number of cameras installed, crime in the inner city has already dropped by 60%. The surveillance project was introduced in April 2000 as a joint initiative between BACST and the City of Johannesburg. The project was based on the surveillance project success in Cape Town where crime has dropped by 80% in the CBD. John Penberthy, managing director of BACST says that the surveillance system is much more than an effective crime-fighting tool.
"While the curtailment of crime remains a prime objective, the system now performs the equally if not more important role of urban management. Traffic control, refuse removal, road repair and fire warning are just some areas in which we find ourselves now playing an increasingly important role."
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