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AURA launch first Crime Trend Report, aims to gain insight in South Africa

On-demand emergency services marketplace AURA has launched a report into South Africa's high crime rate and what can be done to lower it.

The inaugural Crime Trend Report released this month examines data from the past year of crime in South Africa. The statistics, which focus on key categories such as armed robberies, attempted hijackings and gender-based violence, gather data from AURA's nationwide network of over 250 private security and medical companies. This consists of around 300,000 active users of the AURA Panic app and thousands of response vehicles.

The report gives the company a more comprehensive idea of South Africa's crime landscape and equips it with a better understanding of how best to utilise technology to address this.

“By having a clear and accurate picture of the threats South Africans face, technology can then be used to combat, and even prevent crime,” explains AURA CEO Warren Myers.

Myers adds that the comprehensive data enables the company to begin to understand how to apply technology to make South Africa a safer place for everyone.

AURA states that it is currently South Africa's leading security and medical response marketplace. It gathers and centralises data from more than 170 private security companies before applying AI to dispatch the closest vetted response vehicle.

Although the company's current report focuses on 2021, AURA plans to release further statistics every three months. This comes as part of the company's dedication to cross-reference and closely examine trends compared with the data reported at a national and industry level.

Myers acknowledges that the high crime rate causes the public great distress and that prolonged exposure to crime only makes it worse for South Africa's people.

“We should never become so desensitised to crime that we lose sight of its devastating impact at every level of society. Combatting it swiftly and intelligently is an urgent priority,” Myers says.

The AURA Panic app found increased usage when the user felt unsafe, not just if they required emergency services as victims of a crime. For example, instances of car breakdowns on the side of the road or just a sense of unease over suspicious activity saw users requesting help more often, prompting a steady increase in usage in 2021.

Below are the key highlights from AURA's 2021 Trend Report:

Overall, reported incidents between 2020 and 2021 increased by 109% (partly due to user growth).

Q3 and Q4 2021 saw a 20.6% increase in reported incidents.

Reported hijackings increased by 3.5% from the same period last year (a total of 4,973 in 2021).

The most common reasons for South Africans calling for help using an AURA-powered platform were suspicious activity, vehicle breakdown, an altercation with a third party, and armed robbery.

The highest volume of reported incidents in 2021 was in the Gauteng province, followed by the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal (however, protest action and armed robbery per province can be directly attributed to the civil unrest that swept these parts of the country in the third quarter).

Domestic violence incidents in Q2 increased by 47% compared with Q1, and AURA recorded an additional 45% increase in incidents of gender-based violence between Q2 and Q3. A further rise of 41% took place between Q3 and Q4.

May 2021 saw medical-related incidents increase by 61% (however, this coincided with the country's third wave of COVID-19 infections).

As a direct result of app usage, specifically increased marketplace and response network, AURA's response time was brought down to seven minutes and 41 seconds in the fourth quarter.

The report's findings also reflect an increase in organised, syndicate crime as well as opportunistic crime. Myers adds that making it tougher to engage in criminal activity in South Africa is the key to lowering the crime rate and that tech is the way to do that.

“This will require building and integrating technologies that criminals simply cannot avoid or outsmart. These technologies are here in AURA and it is extremely exciting to put them to good use for everyone's benefit,” he says.

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