Aizatron, winner of the Management of Systems Award in the category for medium enterprises

Good citizens are the best guardians against crime

South Africa has about 450 000 active security guards and close to 180 000 police officers, and yet crime remains rife. People in poorer communities are particularly vulnerable, not least because they cannot afford to pay for security guards and systems that wealthier households take for granted.

This is the kind of societal problem that Aizatron, a 4IR technology company based in Cape Town, believes can – and should – be solved through systems thinking.

“We are part of the broader environment and if companies like ours don’t work to address challenges such as gender-based violence, it will affect our ability to be sustainable,” says Ansu Sooful, CEO of the Aizatron Group.

 In other words, what hurts communities can hurt companies; and what benefits communities can be beneficial to companies too. Since crime in general and gender-based violence are causing harm to communities and businesses alike, Aizatron has been devising some novel ways to be part of the solution.

A good example is its Aweh Panic Button, which Aizatron developed in collaboration with poor communities in the Cape Flats.

For such communities, standard panic button systems have two big drawbacks, according to Ansu.

“One is that they are subscription-based, which people in poor communities can’t afford. Second, when the button is pressed, it alerts the security company, police, or a few key contacts. That’s a problem if they are far away. In a situation of personal danger, you can’t afford to wait even five minutes for help to come.”

The Aweh button is different.  Smartphone-based, it works on a network of community “guardians”, including members of church groups, social clubs, and the like who are sick and tired of gender-based violence, as Ansu puts it.

When the panic button is activated, an alert is instantly sent to all guardians within a 100-metre radius, who can then respond immediately to the distress call.

“We have seen that when communities in South Africa are under attack, they come together and unite,” Ansu says. “Other good citizens are the best guardians we could ask for.”

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