Integrated estate management for optimal results

Residential Security Handbook 2021: SMART Estate Living Editor's Choice

In and out. The problem of keeping ‘in’ things in, and making sure that ‘out’ things stay out is an issue that affects everything from the level of single cells in a body, through to the body itself, and further. If a cell blocks everything from entering, the cell withers and suffers from a lack of vital external resources, but on the opposite extreme, if a cell isn’t vigilant and allows all manner of things in, viruses spread and the cell suffers.

Managing estates usually involves similar thought processes, split into key functions: vetting and testing, tracking and tracing, and protecting and preventing.

However, these core areas that deal with access control, visitor management and perimeter security, respectively, have potential issues that may cause the security of your estate to either over-protect and get in the way, or under-protect and still get in the way. We will discuss several problems estates experience within these realms, solutions that we have found from experience, and best practices that your estate management can adopt to best mitigate these shortcomings and give your security the vitamin C boost it needs.

Access control: Vetting and testing

Access control is paramount to an estate’s security. Your front gate is the frontline of your defence, but it is also the largest hole in your defence and the most used during a day. If a security guard at the gate has time to follow procedure, then things may work out well, however, when there’s a queue of impatient residents stuck behind an unscheduled delivery vehicle, protocol may go out the window for the sake of moving people along.

This is especially true if a visitor to the estate becomes aggressive or rude, as this can fluster an otherwise level-headed employee. We live in an instant-gratification society, where efficiency and instant access are expected, yet the vetting process is the only thing that can prevent criminals from gaining entry.

There are several solutions to this problem. An estate needs to balance establishing legitimacy while keeping entry and exit timely and effective. The first part deals with establishing legitimacy. It is simply impossible for an individual to remember every vehicle that comes and goes, let alone every person that enters. This is when technology enters the arena.

With advances in licence plate recognition (LPR) as well as facial recognition, an artificial intelligence driven system can store data of every entry to an estate, as well as compare vehicles with police and estate databases for evidence of past issues. This technology adds a layer of protection, accuracy, and legitimacy to your estate management, and can alert you of any issue with the vehicle before it even reaches the gates.

This technology also addresses the second issue of time; if a guard only has to deal with the inter-personal aspects of access control, not only are they more effective, but this can actually improve your estate’s customer relations. Another way to address this is to establish a culture of communication with your residents. By asking for pre-authorisation, regular and trusted workers will be able to enter without going through a vetting process each time, and any unscheduled visits will be addressed with more attention. This is an ideal compromise between time and security.

COVID-19 specific access control

For estates with a budget or need, it is entirely possible to integrate cameras with AI-powered body temperature detection capabilities. This may not be necessary, however, as using the above-mentioned video analytic LPR cameras will free up manned security to manually address temperature and sanitation concerns at the gate.

It is also commonplace for many larger estates to have a residents-only gate and a separate entry point for visitors or contractors. Employing the use of biometric scanners such as fingerprint and facial recognition software at these critical junction points, integrally ties in with our upcoming section about tracking and tracing – having an integrated security system with effective means of collecting and collating data about who has entered your estate is critical.

Visitor management: Tracking and tracing

Most illegal immigration in the United States happens not by individuals jumping a wall, but by landing there with a visa, then overstaying their welcome. Thoughts on immigration policy aside, this is an important point. Once a person is through the gates of an estate, this is often where the buck stops. Most estates focus their cameras outwards, not inwards. They try to illuminate all the blind spots outside the walls, but overlook the happenings that go on inside. A camera in everyone’s garden isn’t a solution to this type of issue.

The solution to this problem comes not from visitor logs (which could be full of inaccuracies), but rather in the way management and residents communicate with each other. By creating channels of communication from WhatsApp groups all the way through to full-blown, customised, estate-specific communication platforms (which cover all aspects of estate living), control rooms can act decisively from the reliable and pre-verified security data they receive. Residents often take a stance that security is something that happens outside, but it really comes from within. Communication establishes an air of trust and transparency, and complements the typical high visibility approach to security.

COVID-19 specific solutions

Providing early notification to control rooms, as well as establishing lines of communication between residents, will not only allow transparency to prevent a resident from recklessly giving entry to excessive numbers of people per month, but in the case of a COVID infection, residents can be informed quickly and effectively so that self-isolation and quarantine procedures can be met.

Perimeter security: Protecting and preventing

Where does your estate draw its boundary? By relying on high fences and old-school cameras that aren’t integrated with AI-driven video analytic systems, you have effectively drawn the line right at your doorstep. If a person reaches your perimeter, they can scale the walls or even break through in a short amount of time. By establishing virtual boundaries enabled by thermal and AI-driven cameras, you can push the frontline of your security outwards. Having a guard in a control room staring at multiple cameras simply doesn’t work effectively. Early warning is the key to addressing this security issue.

There are simply things that humans cannot do, but there is also a limit to what technology can do, so a combination of incorporating cutting-edge technology into your existing manned system is the best approach to mitigate risks, and establish intelligent data-driven outcomes.

COVID-19 specific solution

Enabling virtual boundaries beyond your estate’s perimeter can enhance your coronavirus prevention protocols by providing early warning and ensuring effective curfew monitoring. Since the start of the lockdown curfews, we have been able to work alongside the estates and SAPS to arrest numerous people who were clearly breaking the curfew protocol. This added layer of protection can also help keep your on-site security and management personnel safe, as they may not need to venture outside an estate to address a possible issue, as our notification procedure to SAPS is streamlined in such a circumstance.

Managed services

One way that an estate can address access control, perimeter monitoring, as well as visitor management, is to outsource remote monitoring and management services. Incorporating a remote monitoring service is an ideal way to boost your security without additional staff or systems getting in the way, as a managed services offering like Verifier’s works from behind the scenes.

We are so out of the way that we don’t necessarily need to be on site at all. Though physically remote, we utilise communication strategies and integrate technology into every decision we make, ensuring transparency, preventing collusion, and ensuring all the background needs of access control are met so that your on-site staff will be the most effective at what they do best.

An estate management team needs to perform the trifecta of security functions, those being access control, visitor management and perimeter monitoring. Yet, these functions work best when integrated within a larger security framework, when they communicate well with each other, and when there are several backup and redundancy systems built in. The tighter they are interwoven, the smaller the holes in your defences become.


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