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Redi Tlhabi, master of ceremonies, together with over 230 participants from the country’s most prominent leaders, corporates, start-ups and innovators came together on Friday 16 August for the Uber Tech for Safety Summit, to explore South Africa’s safety challenges and how technology can be used to build safer communities now and in the future.

The Summit featured speakers and panel discussions around the main themes of community safety, social media safety, road safety and tech for start-up safety.  Top speakers included Luke Kannemeyer, Head of growth for SweepSouth, Microsoft’s Area Solution Architect: Middle East and Africa, Mitesh Chotu,  Facebook’s Public Policy Lead for Southern Africa, Emilar Gandhi, Ilan Ossin, Head of Telematics for Discovery Insure, Aura Founder and Director, Warren Myers and Ntombohlanga (Hlanga) Mqushulu from the Soul City Institute for Social Justice, a non-profit organisation.

Commitment plus technology lead to action and positive impact

Topics addressed during the panels, brought the most pressing issues facing the country to the fore, including; safety for women, personal safety and commuter safety which contributed to the much needed safety conversation while equipping guests with the thinking and knowledge needed to use current and new technology to help create a safer future for all South Africans

Aki Anastasiou experienced journalist and technology guru,  and moderator for the Tech For Road Safety panel challenged the panelists for deeper insights and supported findings into why technology is an answer to safer roads globally. “Technology and telematics can drive key innovations to keep our roads safer explained Ilan Ossian, Head of Telematics at Discovery Insure, while Siveshnie Pillay, Traffic Engineer at SANRAL, discussed how having e-tolls makes for safer roads by creating mass sums of valuable data on how South Africans use local roads.

The Summit also included a fireside chat between Country Duty founder, Tumi Sole and  Alon Lits, Uber Sub-Saharan Africa General Manager, exploring how tech can leverage social media for safer communities, while concluding with a student component where the winners of Uber’s Hackathon presented their technology solution, R’Vaye, to enhance personal safety.

Safety & Innovation – Leveraging current and new technologies

Throughout the day, examples were also discussed of how innovative start-ups, governments and businesses are employing  the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technology to help make citizens safer. “The 4IR is here to stay and educating locals on how to become connected and use the technology available is a priority. We need to learn, explore, experience and help create a dialogue that enables and encourages all in South Africa to not fear the 4IR, but embrace it,” explains Honorable Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies in her keynote address.

During the Summit, Uber’s Global Senior Director of Product, Sachin Kansal, emphasised why safety at Uber is always a priority and highlighted the key safety features introduced since launch. “With a global footprint and billions of trips, safety is a necessity and must always, like technology, develop.”  

Uber’s Lits concludes, “We believe that our diverse and innovative group of speakers and panellists provided in-depth insights, as well as actionable tools for using technology for safety. The summit was not meant to be a single event, but a starting point for the work that must be done to alleviate the safety challenges we all face.