This year, the second-ever Tech for Safety summit kicked things up a notch in that it also needed to address the challenges associated with operating in the era of the COVID-19, whereby the pandemic and resultant lockdowns in response to it, have made business continuity a far less predictable prospect in 2020 and beyond.
In addition, the very way in which the summit was held had to be adjusted to the ‘new normal’ as there was a mix of both virtual attendees and in-person delegates that had to adhere to all COVID-19 protocols necessary to ensure the safety of everyone who attended the live event. There were also a number of virtual speakers from across Sub-Saharan Africa who shared their in-depth knowledge and experience in panel discussions for the very first time.
Using 4IR tech trends to help ensure business continuity in the age of COVID-19
The keynote speaker for this year’s summit was venture capitalist, Mr Michael Jordaan, who provided some sage advice to entrepreneurs including the fact that the biggest problems are also the greatest business opportunities if you know where to look. By tapping into demand-driven metrics, start-ups are able to identify gaps where consumer needs are not being met. With this, business owners are able to create a unique sellable service that addresses that specific need. They are further able to leverage available open-sourced technology so they don’t need to reinvent, they simply can invest in what there is and build off that.
The first panel discussed how technology has enhanced the way we travel and by virtue, creating safer cities and communities. It was moderated by Geoffrey Bickford, Executive Manager: Programmes at the South African Cities Network.
Also appearing on the panel virtually was Sveta Milusheva, Economist in the Development Impact Evaluation unit at the World Bank, who noted that the power of understanding data enables us to identify key insights on what put commuters at risk, assisting in the creation of safety solutions.
Business as usual makes way for the ‘new normal’
The second panel discussed how innovative technology has allowed us to make the best of our work-from-home (or live-at-work) situation. Virtual panellist and cybersecurity analyst, Eyitemi Egbejule, emphasized that our lack of knowledge on online security has allowed phishing emails to be among the top reasons for cyber-attacks.
The final panel was moderated by the University of Witwatersrand’s Dr Geci Karuri-Sebina and focussed on providing tech-driven solutions that are inclusive of all communities who have their safety imposed on. In-person panellist Siphelele Ngobese, who is a researcher at Safer Spaces stated that future-cities need to use technology to bring back basic safety rights to its citizens. Additionally, she asserted that surveillance and facial recognition only scratch the surface of what we need to be implemented in order to bring about greater safety within urban cities.
Novel additions to this year’s Tech for Safety summit included our partner A21, a global anti-human trafficking organisation, which stated that vetting of job opportunities grew by 1000% during the nationwide lockdown. Our Pitching Den returned providing start-ups with an opportunity to pitch their “tech for safety” ideas live to a panel of judges and potential investors. The Pitching Den, supported by Innovate Durban, will provide a fully-immersive support program for 1 year to our winner, Password Kid, a mobile app that allows for the safe travel of kids to and from school.
All in all, the second annual Tech for Safety summit built on and improved upon the foundation of the inaugural event, and left next year’s event with a high bar to surpass. Join the conversation online at #Tech4Safety to continue the conversation and come up with ways to help make Africans safer and the future for innovative businesses more secure. DM