Much of the South African government’s response to crime—especially in Johannesburg—has been to rely increasingly on technology. This includes the widespread use of video cameras, Artificial Intelligence, machine-learning, and automated systems, effectively replacing human watchers with machine watchers. The aggregate effect of such steps is to determine who is, and isn’t, allowed to be in public spaces—essentially another way to continue segregation.
In The Infrastructures of Security, author Martin J. Murray concentrates on not only the turn toward technological solutions to managing the risk of crime through digital (and software-based) surveillance and automated information systems, but also the introduction of somewhat bizarre and fly-by-night experimental “answers” to perceived risk and danger. Digitalized surveillance is significant for two reasons: first, it enables monitoring to take place across wide "geographical distances with little time delay"; and second, it allows for the active sorting, identification, and "tracking of bodies, behaviors, and characteristics of subject populations on a continuous, real-time basis." These new software-based surveillance technologies represent monitoring, tracking, and information gathering without walls, towers, or guards.
About the Author
Martin J. Murray is Professor of Urban Planning, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan.
“This book provides a wealth of data on technology driven security in South Africa, as well as vivid and detailed accounts of the workings of security and its connection to societal fears. The topic is of the utmost relevance for understanding contemporary societal configurations and the role/position of the various actors in creating them.” —Federica Duca, University of the Witwatersrand