Mobility’s potential to use new data sources

September 25th, 2019, Published in Articles: PositionIT, Featured: PositionIT

Voluntary transport engineering body Intelligent Transport Society South Africa (ITSSA) held its annual general meeting in August 2019 to select a new board and hear how new technologies can feed useful data into transport engineering applications.

The society, which focuses on mobility as a key enabler of smart cities, has had its most difficult year since its inception in 2001, its CEO Dr Paul Vorster said. He attributes this to the lack of large projects to drive the industry. Many of the tenders issued were not awarded, or don’t end up being implemented. However, new Sanral tenders on the horizon are seen as a positive sign of a potential turning point for the industry. The society also sees an important role for its members to deliver input into president Cyril Ramaphosa’s Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which was appointed in April this year.

Ricky Croock explains the business value of infrastructure as a service platforms such as that of his company, Vumacam.

Ricky Croock from security company Vumacam delivered the keynote address at the meeting, explaining the potential of shared technologies and platforms between industries such as mobility and safety and security. Vumacam started when Croock’s security company realised the infrastructure for the required video surveillance it needed didn’t exist. This led the firm to create a vast city-wide fibre network in partnership with Vumatel, to a allow reliable and quality video streaming for security applications, and has given rise to the company’s infrastructure as a service business. If you live in Johannesburg, you might have seen the company’s poles with circular, grey boxes on them, some with security cameras already installed.

As a video platform service the company sells the footage to various private security companies. It uses automation such as machine learning to process the footage and analyse security incidents. The benefit of a wide area infrastructure, said Croock, is the network effect of centralised data to track broad patterns, such as robberies in different neighbourhoods.

With the infrastructure in place, a scope for new products has developed. The rich data from reliable and good resolution video footage has applications beyond security. In the mobility sector, for example, the footage can be used for congestion monitoring, to reduce emergency response times in accidents, or for proactive infrastructure monitoring by identifying potential issues before they become problems.

Integration is key to the success of infrastructure as a service solution, Croock explained. Having a macro view of the platform not only helps Vumacam drive investment, but also with managing regulatory issues such as privacy regulations. Integration also requires collaboration, he said. The fibre-infrastructure and surveillance camera rollouts have so far been determined by the right of way (wayleaves) permissions the company was able to obtain from municipalities, as well as by public acceptance of neighbourhood surveillance. The company is currently working to geolocate security vehicles to deploy the closest one to an incident and so speed up response times.

The ITSSA board: Marius Barnard, Clancinah Baloyi, Wilson Batista, Tony Huggett (President), Ashvir Harcharan, Paul Vorster (CEO), Wim Ferreira and Amogelang Kgoathe.

ITSSA also elected its new board on the day, which comprises a balance of public and private sector members. The two year term of the board, with new members joining annually while others complete the remainder of their last year term allows for continuity in the organisation.

The two new board members this year are Carl October (Department of Transport, Western Cape Provincial Government) and Amogelang Kgoathe (Innovative Transport Solutions). Clancinah Baloyi (Providere) has been re-elected for a new two-year term. Board members serving the second half of their two-year term are president Tony Huggett (TMT), vice president Marius Barnard (Syntell), Wilson Batista (JRA), Ashvir Harcharan (Durban), Wim Ferreira (Techso) and Kersen Naidoo (Aptymo). Bernard Oosthuizen (City of Cape Town) and Ivan Reutener (RHDHV) have stepped down from the board.

Contact ITS South Africa, info@itssa.org

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