Evert Stamhuis presenting AI-MAPS on 17th Winelands Conference, Stellenbosch South Africa

Blogpost for the AI-MAPS project by Evert Stamhuis
Evert Stamhuis at the Winelands Conference 2023, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The promotion of public safety touches upon a multitude of aspects and actors. Consequently, the actual and potential use of AI can only be studied sensibly with a combination of lenses, incorporating social, legal and ethical aspects. These aspects not only vary across the different use cases, the different societal conditions across cities and countries have a huge impact as well. This was a central learning from the participation Evert Stamhuis had in a plenary panel on the future of AI in public leadership, Oct 17 2023 in Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies.

The current situation in the West-Kaap region regarding informal housing and electricity provision sheds a totally different light on how to promote public safety in residential areas. Whose feeling of safety would grow by installing AI powered video surveillance systems, when the lights in the street are out for a couple of hours every day and the CCTV cameras might even go blind? In a situation of limited public resources, priority would not be given to state-of-the-art surveillance technology, but to improving lighting and to personal presence of a community supervisor at safety hotspots. The last thing is what the provincial government has deployed. For locating the hotspots the authority stayed away from crime data but it analyzed ambulance dispatch data. That approach highlights that safety promotion was the goal and not crime detection.

Evert Stamhuis at the Winelands Conference 2023, Stellenbosch, South Africa
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