The service of security

CCTV Handbook 2021 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Readers of this year’s CCTV Handbook will notice the regular occurrence of the word ‘service’. It is something the industry has been talking about for years and we are now seeing the idea becoming a reality in the security market.

The concept of a service is some function or utility one pays for according to your usage. For example, one pays for the amount of electricity used monthly, while the infrastructure, back-end generation and transmission of the electricity is the provider’s problem (results may differ in South Africa).

Similarly, security end-users want the benefits of the best security systems out there, but they can’t afford to upgrade every three years, while also paying for maintaining the hardware and software infrastructure. The costs are high for small-scale CCTV installations (10 or 15 cameras), but when you get to enterprise-level systems (with advanced intelligence), you need an enormous budget. Then one also has to think of the skills required to keep the security, communications and IT technology up and running 24/7, as well as the cost of operators in your control room.

One company providing a solution to the problem is Watcher Surveillance Solutions, which provides an off-site Surveillance Operating Centre (SOC). The SOC offers a cloud-based video management system (VMS) that manages customers’ video feeds using the latest in-video analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). In addition, the centre is also staffed by well-trained operators around the clock.

This combination of intelligent technology and human operators ensures efficient and accurate services to clients. Whenever the AI analytics picks up an anomaly, such as someone climbing over a wall or committing an offence, it alerts the operators who then react to the events by viewing the situation as it happens. Based on pre-defined standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each client, the operator will determine if the alarm was caused by a non-event, such as a dog walking where it shouldn’t, or if there is an actual security emergency.

In the event of an emergency, the operators will notify the client’s armed response company, the responsible person(s) or the police (or all of them) and monitor the situation to its conclusion. Regular reports will keep the customer abreast of what has been happening in their environment, allowing them to streamline their security processes, and even their business operations.

Better security and improved productivity

Johan van der Lith, CEO at Watcher Surveillance Solutions, explains that using intelligent technology reduces the number of alarm events significantly as the system is able to distinguish between animals and humans, as well as environmental factors such as branches blowing in the wind, for example. This means less meaningless work for operators and more time for them to address real problems.

It also allows operators to efficiently manage more cameras without being overwhelmed. Traditionally, a good operator can manage 20 to 30 cameras effectively if concentration levels can be maintained. With the assistance of AI and analytics removing almost all the ‘noise’, or false alarms, this number increases to between 80 and 120 cameras in the Watcher SOC – without a degradation of service levels.

It also means clients don’t have to concern themselves with large capital investments every few years as all the infrastructure, including the video storage, is managed by Watcher. The client then benefits from switching to a monthly subscription (operating expenditure) for the surveillance service, instead of the continuous capital expenditure.

Naturally, each client’s site will still need cameras installed, which Watcher will provide as part of the monthly service, along with the maintenance of the camera and infrastructure. For those sites with existing cameras in place, these can be incorporated into the service as well. Van Der Lith explains that almost any cameras can be linked to the Watcher SOC, although the company does make recommendations in terms of which brands are the best suited to the site and deliver the best images and service.

“The key to a successful surveillance operation, whether the cameras are monitored remotely or onsite, is how the cameras are set up and configured,” says Derick Neethling, head of sales at Watcher. “The idea of a plug-and-play solution is not a workable reality if you want to be sure that you cover the right areas effectively and especially if you want to run intelligent analytics accurately enough to rely on the results for security.”

Once again, with its experience in the field, Watcher’s team is able to work with the client to design a camera setup that will provide clear images that are accurately analysed by the AI systems.

A hybrid approach

Many clients already have surveillance systems and security in place. As mentioned above, these do not need to be dismantled, but can be added to the Watcher network and even onsite guards can be integrated into the complete solution so that people and technology work together to keep the environment secure.

This system also assists in keeping on-site security personnel safe. Security officers that are dispatched to an incident will know what they can expect to find and that they can equip themselves accordingly.


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