Making SA cities ‘smart’ isn’t the dumbest idea, says Huawei

Business

Making SA cities ‘smart’ isn’t the dumbest idea, says Huawei

Chinese tech company uses IT and communications to make cities safer and run more efficiently. We’re keen

Nick Hedley

Chinese technology company Huawei says some South African cities have expressed an interest in its $1.5-billion smart city development fund. 
While many cities globally were interested in launching smart city projects, their budgets did not always allow for these initiatives, said Edwin Diender, vice president of the government and public utility sector at Huawei Enterprise Business Group.
The fund aimed to get these cities over “the last mile stage” of negotiations and would not be tied only to Huawei’s technologies, said Diender.
Huawei said in May it had launched the global financing facility for smart city projects in partnership with US-based Smart City Capital, which sourced the funding.The smart city model is premised on using information and communications technology to make cities safer and run more efficiently.
“More than 100 [city representatives] from all over the world have already expressed an interest in the fund and have asked what they need to do, what the prerequisites are and so on,” Shenzhen-based Diender said.
City representatives in SA and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa had approached Huawei.
“We are now in the validation phase of all the requests that are coming in from different sides of the world, from different organisations, agencies and [local] government departments that are interested.”
Huawei advised that cities undertook smart city projects in a phased approach, starting with public safety solutions, then bridging government “information silos” to make them more efficient, and then improving utilities management. Once those were complete, Diender said “smart” education, healthcare and transport could follow.
Also in May, Moscow-headquartered AxxonSoft launched an “incident management centre” in Pretoria for surveillance projects. The centre monitors public and private spaces in SA using facial recognition, licence plate recognition and other software.
A growing number of South African companies were turning to facial recognition technology to secure their premises and eradicate crime, according to Colleen Glaeser, MD for Southern Africa and the SADC region at AxxonSoft.
AxxonSoft sells its facial recognition software to shopping malls and housing estates, and to airport, mining, banking and transport operators. Glaeser said this was becoming a modern substitute for private security guards.

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