Xanadu upgrades its security

Residential Estate Security Handbook 2020 Editor's Choice

Xanadu Nature Estate, east of the Hartbeespoort Dam, is set on 240 hectares overlooking the picturesque Magaliesberg mountain range. The estate sports walking trails, green belt parks and bird hides to ensure the tranquillity and enjoyment of life on the estate. The estate is surrounded by 8,4 km of perimeter fencing.

A few years ago, the estate upgraded its perimeter defences with the addition of over 40 FLIR and Opgal thermal cameras (see https://www.securitysa.com/7377r). However, the problem Christo Wentzel, the Xanadu security trustee, encountered was that while they could cover areas from 100 m to 500 m in front of the camera, once the intruder had passed the camera’s field of view, they could get lost in the huge estate with no way of tracking them.

Despite the size of the estate, the estate’s response unit can reach any breach location within 3 minutes. While these reaction times are above average, three minutes is enough for intruders to vanish into the estate.

The solution Wentzel and the Xanadu Homeowners’ Association came up with is the installation of the GroundAware radar system with a controlled reach of 1 km. This system is the first of three radar installations the estate will install that will eventually cover the entire estate. The radar system allows Xanadu to detect potential intruders before they cross onto estate property and then track them wherever they move, and it will do so 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. To assist the security teams, PTZ cameras will also be placed on top of the radar towers, allowing for further visual verification and tracking.

Wentzel says the first radar installation is up and running. The estate had to move the location of the tower initially because of problems experienced with Google Earth, which managed to ignore some blind spots, but this has been resolved.

Additional perimeter changes

Wentzel adds that the current cameras on the estate’s perimeter are not being removed, but will continue operations until they reach obsolescence. Furthermore, A1 Fence has been tasked with replacing the estate’s 8,4 km palisade fence, a project which is currently underway.

A-1 Fence is an international company with manufacturing in India and Dubai. Its South African office was the 8th international office the company opened and Scott Wilson, general manager of A-1 in South Africa, says the company prides itself on manufacturing its own fencing solutions.

More than simply providing a fence to Xanadu, Wilson explains the company engaged with the estate to determine exactly what they required before providing the full solution. The solution included walking the site to ensure that A-1’s advice was based on the realities of the environment and terrain, and would suit the estate’s needs.

A-1 offered two of its vetted partners the job of installing the solution, and although the COVID-19 lockdown hampered the rollout slightly, the process is ongoing.

Wilson adds that launching a local manufacturing operation was on the cards for A-1, but has now been put on the backburner – for obvious reasons.

During this process, the fibre-optic cabling that was attached to the fence to carry the thermal and visual camera feeds, and which is now supporting the radar installation, will be moved underground. Over time, should the estate require it, it may be adapted and used for seismic perimeter protection. This, however, is something that will be decided in a few years’ time, adds Wentzel.

A final upgrade that was initiated just before the COVID-19 lockdown and the subsequent fear of using biometric access control systems that required users to touch a reader or screen, is facial recognition technology. Although Wentzel says the timing was coincidental, and fortunate, electronic access to the estate has been upgraded by utilising a facial recognition system from ZKTeco.

He says the system works very well, in fact, better than expected. Some initial problems were experienced, which were solved by tilting the angle of the camera and adjusting the shading to cater for the direct afternoon sunlight. Since that change, the system has been performing above expectations.

Drones on patrol

As if the above was not enough, Xanadu is also investigating the use of drones for improved estate security. While drones can be very useful for estate security, the regulations around legal drone usage in South Africa are very restrictive. The estate is working with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to show how drones can be used safely with remote pilots, or even automatically when patrolling a perimeter at set times of the day. This will not only assist with security operations, but the images captured by the drones can also be used to assign tasks to the estate’s maintenance teams – to cut the grass, for example.

Furthermore, Wentzel says a drone can respond to a panic alarm far faster than the reaction units on the estate – it takes 21 seconds to travel the longest distance in the estate – which will make the security team more efficient and provide accurate, real-time information during emergencies.

“As Xanadu, we are proud to be one of the country’s leaders in the utilisation of the latest technology in estate security systems,” said Wentzel.

Readers can find out more about Xanadu at www.xanadu.co.za

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