Dotted assets untouchable

The world of criminals thriving on stealing and reselling valuable assets will soon come crumbling down as DataDot Namibia ups the ante in combating crime, thanks to technological development and research.

DataDot is a technology, which makes use of tiny polyester or metal discs that are almost invisible to the naked eye. They are applied to any asset that attracts criminals. Each disc or datadot is laser-etched with a unique pin code, which links an asset to the owner. Once these dots have been applied, it makes it easier to trace the origin of the asset(s) to the rightful owner(s) by NamPol.

“You can apply it on any type of asset, which attract criminals like computers, cameras, solar panels, television sets, hi-fi tools and equipment as well as on vehicles. However, fitting datadots on vehicle is done by certified fitters in a specialised environment.

“Each dot has a unique pin code written on it and it is only the law enforcement who can read it using a special hand-held device meant for that”, explained Hashikutuva, who is the sole licence holder through his company; Keystone Technology Solutions and the only one with permission to trade and distribute this technology.

Joram; an entrepreneur at heart is optimistic that this technology will bring theft of valuable assets to a standstill as criminals will find it hard to sell their stolen goods.

“We are closing the market for stolen goods as community members will be compelled to verify assets before making any transactions”, he quipped.

In simple terms, the technology links the asset to the owner and this is how; a client will purchase the kit(s), which they will apply on the strategic areas of their assets using a special adhesive. Once applied, these dots are invisible to the naked eye. Resultantly, DataDot will enter all the details about the client including the name, telephone number and the unique pin code.

The unique code automatically becomes a source of reference when assets are found in the wrong hands as police will confirm with DataDot who the rightful owner is.

“This is not a secret technology and we want criminals to know about it. Every dotted house or office will have a label warning the would-be criminals that the items have been dotted and thus making stealing useless as the assets will be traced back to their owners; unless the thieves convert the stolen assets into personal,” he added.

Statistics have proven that 80-90% of stolen goods are often converted into cash. Statistics has also indicated that most crimes that are committed in Namibia are commercially related because criminals see a lucrative market for stolen goods.

The prerequisite for all second-hand goods will be to verify whether the items have been dotted or not at any police station and there lies the catch.

The central location of asset database is in South Africa, which is a bonus for those whose assets are dotted, as it makes tracing stolen goods beyond the Namibian borders easy, so is it in SA and Botswana and vice-versa.

This technology will have a far reaching consequence as it can be used both by the Government and the private sector.

“Some people steal assets from their employers both in the Government and the private sector and then create falsify invoices to cover up the theft but it will take just a single dot to trace the origins of such assets,” he explained.

DataDot has been looking into big things ahead and so far, they have accomplished three phases of their business; the first being the acquisition of the trading licence, which they got after undergoing a rigorous process of screening. Secondly, they have developed the skills of using this technology as they have trained 227 police officers to date from all the 13 political regions who can now operate the technology.

This technology can be applied on any asset that attract criminals ranging from calculators, to laptops, printers, workshop spare parts, vehicles, solar panels, etc.

Internationally, companies like BMW, Subaru and Toyota have taken up this technology and it has significantly reduced incidences of car theft.

“We apply 10 000 dots to a vehicle on over 88 pre-determined locations, which is a significant increase in vehicle identity from six to seven traditional security points in a car,” said Joram.

Joram further explained that in South Africa, it’s been made a law to use micro-dots in all vehicles entering the market and proof should be produced at the vehicle clearance office before clearance is issued, a move that makes it harder for criminals to thrive in their trade.

In South Africa, the amendment on National Roads Traffic Regulationthat standardise the use of micro-dots in vehicles as Gazetted on the 9th of last month.

Joram said that this technology is ISO 2001-certified and at one time, a vehicle was exposed to extreme heat of 2700 degree Celsius but the dots remained intact.

The technology primarily focusses on asset identification, thus in the event of change of ownership of dotted assets, there is no need to dot them all over again except when it comes to vehicles, which should be re-dotted with the each change of ownership.

DataDot Namibia, besides tightening security screws, is envisaged to create entrepreneurial opportunities downstream through people who will take up the opportunity for distributing the kits in every corner of the country.

“This is a huge amount of work and we cannot be everywhere, so we will depend on other people to do the distribution for us,” he emphasissed.

This technology will bring in a huge sigh of relief for short-term insurance, as in in South Africa where all dotted items enjoy a five percent discount on insurance premiums and this will certainly apply in Namibia.

“We spoke to Hollard Namibia and they have welcomed the idea and we are sure others will follow suit soon,” remarked Joram.

According to him, they have a very strategic relationship with NamPol as to date, they have dotted 18 000 of their assets whose testes and results were impressive.

The core of their relationship with NamPol is to allow them a free access to their asset database to verify ownership of suspicious assets.

DataDot kits come in different sizes; the smallest kit with 500 dots can be used to dot one item like a laptop at N$50, while the one with 1000 dots which can be used to dot two items costs N$200. The kit with 3000 dots is enough to dot six items and costs N$350. To dot a solar panel, one needs a kit with 10 000 dots which costs N$1000.

Dotting vehicles is often done by trained fitment personnel and for 10 000 dots, one pays between N$1500 and N$2450, depending on the arrangements in place.

Except for vehicles, all the kits can be bought over the counter from DataDot Namibia or from their certified dealers all over the country.

Plans are at an advanced stage to roll out the technology in full force all over the country so that people can enjoy the security benefits as from the beginning of this month. PF