The implementation of digital technology can boost health and safety in the mining sector.Newly appointed Tshimologong Precinct CEO, Lesley Donna Williams, says that while digital disruption has largely been consumer-facing, manufacturing industries and natural resource sectors are starting to take both a human-centered approach, as well as looking to technology to assist with improvements and innovative ways to move these industries forward.

Setswana for “new beginnings”, Tshimologong is Johannesburg’s newest high-tech address in the vibrant inner-city district of Braamfontein, where the incubation of start-ups, the commercialisation of research and the development of high-level digital skills for students, working professionals and unemployed youths takes place.

The Precinct was launched in September 2016 with support from major companies including Microsoft, Cisco, Datacentrix, Telkom, ACSA and MMI. Gauteng Province through its Department of E-Government and the City of Johannesburg have also provided significant support.

The Precinct also houses the prestigious IBM Research’s Lab Africa – one of only 12 such facilities in the world.

In collaboration with RIIS, the Precinct hosted Mine.D: Zero Harm - a digitally-inspired hackathon in November 2017. The hackathon focused on Mixed Reality (MR) and Internet of Things (IoT) within the health and safety space of the mining sector.

The Mine.D Hackathon was initiated to bring digital technology closer to age-old mining processes and to identify ways in which technology can assist, grow and improve not only approaches, but specifically the concept of zero harm.

Clen Cook, Managing Partner, RIIS, says that Mine.D was not born to reinvent mining, but to look at how digital technology can be embedded into current processes to affect a better outcome for all involved: “We are aware of the sensitivities associated with the mining industry and as a result want to look for ways that technologies such as Mixed Reality can assist in improving the health and safety for all involved.”

He says with the help of digital technologies, the opportunities to extend the lifespan of mines is also much greater: “Developing technologies for extreme environments is often tricky, so we are hoping to collaborate and develop digital approaches that will address health and safety issues."

South Africa is a global leader in the mining sector. Cook says that the opportunities are significant for the country to research and implement digitally-inspired approaches and continue to lead as an innovative and forward-thinking mining front-runner.

About RIIS

RIIS is the pioneering open innovation firm in South and Southern Africa. Driven by a single purpose – to consistently empower people, organisations and communities to innovate, and thereby to create a better world.

Beginning with the implementation of the first custom-designed platforms in South Africa, RIIS has delivered six open innovation platforms and completed over 100 open innovation engagements across South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia; and are currently in the design phase of an implementation for West Africa, based out of Lagos.