Drones for municipal operations in South Africa

Prospects for drone integration in South Africa’s public service operations took a turn for the better in this week, with the introduction of operations in the provinces of Gauteng and Western Cape.

On Tuesday, the Western Cape Province’s Premier Alan Winde and Provincial Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, handed over drones to the Cape Winelands (CWDM), Overberg (ODM), Garden Route (GRDM) and West Coast (WCDM) District Municipalities.

Each district municipality took ownership of one drone.

The other drones were donated to the Western Cape Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety (POCS) by the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China, with the purpose of bolstering crime fighting efforts across the province.

Valued at approximately R18,000 each, the drones will be used for various operations in the municipalities, including land surveying and mapping, search and rescue, disaster recovery, infrastructure inspections; among many other applications.

“With technology such as drones, our municipalities, in partnership with our government, are sharpening up our collective crime-fighting and disaster capabilities,” Premier Winde said.

“Technology and innovation must be embraced so that we work faster and smarter for our residents.”

The premier added that drones will also be handed over to the South African National Parks authorities in the province, as well as the Central Karoo district municipality.

The Western Cape Emergency Services Department is already using drones for search and rescue missions in the Table Mountains.

And recently, they were joined by the provincial department of agriculture, which procured drones for use in crop spraying and other data collection operations within the province.

“We extend our gratitude to our international partner, as it shows their interest in seeking to ensure that greater safety is achieved across the entire province,” said minister Allen.

“We have already established our K-9 and Rural Safety Units on the West Coast, Overberg and Garden Route regions, and these drones will also complement and enhance their operations. This is yet another demonstration of the Western Cape Government’s commitment to create safer communities, regardless of where it might be in the province.”

Meanwhile in Gauteng, the province has made good on the promises it made last year, and bought a fleet of drones and helicopters to supplement provincial policing efforts.

During his State of the Province Address early this week, Premier Panyaza Lesufi announced that they had acquired helicopters and drones that have seen the province establishing an air wing for the police service.

“To complement our helicopter and ground fleets, we deployed drones in crime hotspots and inaccessible areas such as informal settlements and derelict mining areas,” Lesufi said.

“The drones have been involved in various operations such as High-Density Operations in Diepsloot, Carltonville, Kliptown, Evaton, Zama Zama operations in Fochville, Randfontein, Kagiso, Khutsong and Okae Molao operations in Honeydew, Eldorado Park, Kagiso, DeDeur.

“This pilot project was so successful that we are acquiring an additional 30 drones in partnership with SANDF. The potential for capacity building in this space is limitless, especially for previously disadvantaged groups. This also ties in with our 4th Industrial Revolution ideals.”

He added; “Many cash-in-transit attempts, hijacking and vehicle theft attempts have been foiled through joint efforts between our Air Wing and ground forces.

“In one operation three suspects were arrested after a high-speed chase of a vehicle hijacked in Soweto crashed into a bridge. Ground forces were called, suspects apprehended, firearms confiscated and recovered, and a hijacked victim was rescued.”

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