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While state-owned entities and businesses are forking out billions of Rands to fight the scourge of infrastructure vandalism that has plagued South Africa, a Cape Town-based based Internet of Things (IoT) start-up called CATi has developed game-changing intelligent systems.
CATi – a subsidiary of incubating company Future Perfect Corporation – says its systems can go a long way in protecting critical infrastructure in the country. Previously known as Radian Technologies, CATi was one of ten start-ups who last year graduated from e–Track at the UCT GSB’s Solution Space. It has also previously received funding from Amazons’ AWS Activate Founders start-up programme.
“Our hope is that incidents like power failures due to vandalism will be a thing of the past,” says Dr Stephen Jones, chief scientific officer of CATi. His remarks follows sporadic electricity blackouts across South Africa that are often caused by vandals.
Rail networks, the electricity grid and telecommunications networks are often under attack. In the 2019/2020 financial year, Johannesburg City Power reported a non-technical revenue loss of R2 billion.
Prasa reported this figure to be R1 billion from 2018 to 2021. Telkom, Eskom and Prasa estimated that vandalism and theft costs them R7 billion annually, with a knock-on loss to the economy amounting to R187 billion annually.
CATi chief executive Alvin Rajoo tells Ventureburn, “Our company was born out of necessity. We decided to use technology to fight back.”
The start-up’s home-grown attack alert system detects vandalism attempts. A combination of intelligence on the edge, and the power of cloud computing, alerts authorities with the exact location of the attack.
CATi launched a successful pilot project in the Durbanville industrial area in Cape Town. This was done in collaboration with Eskom, local business owners and a security agency to monitor frequently vandalised electrical distribution kiosks.
Next-up, the company aims to deploy its flagship Infrastructure Attack Monitor (IAM), power backup, and IoT dashboard, in hotspots of vandalism in the country to provide necessary monitoring of infrastructure, confirms Rajoo.
This could reduce loss of critical services like power, water, and telecommunication network. The CATi IAM can be also installed on telecommunication masts, water pump stations, electricity poles an pylons, and substations.