Smart fire detection devices provide safety for vulnerable people in South Africa

Families living in informal settlements in South Africa will now be better protected against devastating fires thanks to a newly announced partnership between Johnson Controls and Lumkani. The collaboration will provide networked, early warning fire detection technology for these communities.

For the 800 million people living in informal settlements around the world, this award-winning[1] smart device provides peace of mind and protection. These at-risk communities are often in danger of experiencing devastating fires due to dense housing conditions and prevalent use of open fire methods for cooking, lighting and heating.

“This collaboration, guided by local expertise and implementation partners, reflects Johnson Controls’ commitment to safe communities,” said Grady Crosby, vice president Public Affairs and Johnson Controls Foundation president. “Our partnership with Lumkani is an opportunity to leverage an innovative solution to solve a complex problem facing the community.”

Fires in these settlements kill thousands of people every year and displace countless more. For survivors, the loss of a home, family necessities and other possessions make it even more difficult to secure economic wellbeing and protect their families from further harm. For the eight million South Africans living in informal settlements and in similar communities around the world, fires are a very real daily threat.

“Lumkani uses heat detection to measure the incidence of fire in an informal home,” said David Gluckman, CEO of Lumkani. “All homeowners within range of the fire receive a text message alerting them to the potential danger and encouraging them to respond to the text to validate its presence.”

This year, with the support of Johnson Controls, which includes the Johnson Controls Foundation, 5,200 Lumkani fire detectors have been installed in Imizamo Yetho, an informal settlement in Cape Town, South Africa. These devices cover 95% percent of the homes in the area, providing safety for 14,000 residents and the broader community for years to come. Every dollar invested in Lumkani technology produces ten dollars in social value[2], generating a huge impact for vulnerable communities.

By combining Lumkani technology with insights from Johnson Controls, a higher performing solution is being delivered to informal settlements, helping to increase personal safety and mitigate loss of life, property and possessions.

As the urban population continues to increase globally, Johnson Controls is committed to developing safer, smarter buildings and cities to meet today’s needs and shape better tomorrows.

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[1] Winner, South African leg of Chivas Regal’s Win the Right Way competition; Winner, Best Startup in the Global Innovation through Science & Technology challenge among others

[2] Social value is based on the combined value of homes saved due to the successful detection and mitigation of fires using the Lumkani fire detector