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Advanced Eye in the Sky set to take off

The City’s Safety and Security Directorate is enhancing its crime prevention capabilities with advanced aerial surveillance technology, further strengthening its already impressive technological arsenal.

The information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technology will take information gathering to the next level in the fight against poaching, land invasions, vegetation fires, illegal street racing, responding to gang incidents and pursuing stolen or hijacked vehicles. 

ISR, commonly referred to as Eye in the Sky, is a two-seater fixed wing aircraft fitted with state of the art cameras that the Safety and Security Directorate will deploy to provide officers with situational awareness and aerial imagery when conducting various enforcement operations. The aircraft that can fly higher than a drone is also fitted with infrared cameras, allowing it to register body heat in cold water, the heat resonating from a recently fired firearm or even the wheels of a speeding vehicle.

‘The ISR technology is a versatile tool, as the fixed wing aircraft can cover larger geographical areas, stay in the air for longer periods doing low level reconnaissance flights and will be less weather dependent than drones. The aircraft will also assist with improving rapid response time by officers during planned operations as precise information can be relayed. The technology’s use will not be limited to the enforcement environment, but can also help in other instances, like the monitoring of high voltage lines, vandalism of vital infrastructure, coastal impact and biodiversity related issues,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

The tender for the reconnaissance fixed wing aircraft has recently been awarded after a lengthy process due to the complexity of the technology.

The use of a fixed wing aircraft was tested previously by the City during crime prevention operations and to assist fire services during the devastating Table Mountain fire in 2021.

Training of command centre staff and operational personnel will begin upon the completion of the contract management stage. This is to ensure that the staff are familiar with the technology and can utilise it optimally when deployed.

The aircraft is a Cessna 337 which is provided through the tender contract with trained, experienced  pilots.

The latest addition of the aerial information, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft is part of the City’s technological roll-out which includes drones, DashCam, BodyCam, Shotspotter, CCTV and ANPR applications, among others.

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