What is the impact of violence and of fighting it? It’s obvious for the victims and there is no price tag for their suffering. But is there significant impact beyond? Impact that can be expressed in money, expressed as cost?
Yes, there is. The Institute for Economics and Peace conducted a research project assessing the economic impact of violence across the globe. The results are staggering: the total cost of violence containment around the world is US$9.46 trillion. To put this into perspective, according to the study this is:
75 times that which is spent on foreign aid.
Almost double the size of the world’s agricultural sector, which means as a global community more money is being spent on keeping peace than is spent feeding the people of the world.
Nearly two-and-a-half times the total GDP of the African continent.
In terms of the amount spent on violence containment as a percentage of GDP, Liberia sits at 22.7%, Zimbabwe at 18.2%, and South Africa at 8.5%.
Michael Pittelkow, GM: Public Services at SAP Africa, regards fighting violence more effective on less cost as one of the main challenges for Africa. And he sees a key-role for information technology (ICT) in this fight. “Technology can enable governments to respond quicker and more effectively to incidents.”, he says. “By taking advantage of the Digital Economy, government and its branches and responders can quickly, efficiently and most importantly, accurately, ascertain the level of response needed to an incident.
“Through the use and analysis of the data generated from the incidents, auditable and accurate information can be generated and used to predict crime hot-spots. This in turn allows for governments to ensure adequate resources, staffing and training are available to the correct security and safety divisions, reducing costs to the government and ultimately, the taxpayer.”
Gareth Newham, Head of the The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Governance, Crime and Justice Division, said in response to the release of the latest crime statistics for South Africa in September 2014, that the increase in crime over the past two years shows that a new approach to reducing violence and crime is urgently needed. “We must address serious challenges facing the police, involve other government departments, and look hard at the factors which cause violence.”
But today more than ever, law enforcement work is not only reactive but also proactive and predictive. According to the National Institute of Justice, predictive policing tries to harness the power of information, geospatial technologies anevidence-based intervention models to reduce crime and improve public safety.
This two-pronged approach — applying advanced analytics to various data sets, in conjunction with intervention models — can move law enforcement from reacting to crimes into the realm of predicting what and where something is likely to happen and deploying resources accordingly.
“The predictive policing approach does not replace traditional policing but it enhances existing approaches such as y analytics and in-memory databases provide opportunities for predictive policing like never before. And this on reasonable cost,” he adds.
According to a study conducted by a German State Crime Agency 70 % of polled US police departments used predictive policing software, 90 % planning to do so soon. Also in the UK but as well in South-Africa Australia predictive policing is in use.
Through the digital transformation that is a hallmark of the Digital Economy, technology and the massive amount of data available can assist governments in issues of public security, particularly if it is applied through:
Identification of unknown people, objects, locations and events can be displayed and evaluated, and critical information shared in a structured, transparent format. This allows investigators who are not geographically close to the investigation, an opportunity to weigh in and provide insights.
Considering the need to achieve more for less, police forces must adopt a new way of thinking. Through better management of information, improved investigative outcomes or greater use of innovative technologies, processes, and insights, operational performance can drastically be improved.
Response time is crucial in any emergency, and can have a major impact on the outcome. By effectively managing and planning emergency units, response time is reduce and more risks are averted.
Realtime situational awareness
The identification of risks, threats, and consequences of potential incidents, including criminal acts, security breaches, cyber-attacks, and terrorism in real-time.
This enables government to predict crime hot-spots to ensure better resource allocation and prevention of crime and violence.
In conclusion, Michael Pittelkow adds: “Safer and more secure places to live and work are attainable. Through a portfolio of technologies, SAP is able to drive greater community preparedness, increased threat anticipation, improved service delivery, and more. The growth and sustainability of Africa is a key focus for us, and we are implementing various programmes and initiatives across the continent to ensure job sustainability, economic growth and the safety of nations. Public safety and security is foremost on the minds of the many African leaders, SAP is committed to working together with the African governments to ensure safety of citizens.”